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Melanoma

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Author: Jane Brooks

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, caused by sunburn during our early years. Each year in Australia, nearly 10,000 new cases are diagnosed, with 1,200 people dying from this disease every year. Melanoma also may occur within the eye in pigment cells that are similar to melanocytes in the skin. If it occurs on the inner surface of the eyelid, or on visible areas of the eye, melanoma may be diagnosed early. Melanomas in women are most common on the legs and in men they are most common on the trunk. These parts of the body are usually covered but now and then, they are exposed to intense bursts of UV radiation while sunbathing or on a sunbed.

Melanoma appears as a new or existing spot, freckle or mole that changes in colour, size or shape. A melanoma usually has an irregular outline, can be more than one colour, and can grow over weeks to months, appearing anywhere on the body (including areas that aren't exposed to the sun). Melanoma is the most serious of the skin cancers and remains the most fatal type of all cancers. Melanoma cases in this country have more than doubled in the past 2 decades, and the rise is expected to continue.

Melanoma is a type of cancer that occurs in the melanocytes of the epidermis. Melanocytes are the cells that give our skin colour. Melanoma is eighth in frequency of occurrence of all causes of cancer in the United States. Although less common than other skin cancer types, melanoma may metastasize and lead to death. Melanoma begins in the melanocytes, the cells that produce the skin coloring known as melanin. Melanoma is usually curable in its early stages, but is far more dangerous than other skin cancers and causes the majority of skin cancer deaths.

Melanomas vary greatly in appearance. Some melanomas may show all of the ABCD characteristics, while other may only show changes in one or two characteristics. Melanoma is less common, but more dangerous. Melanoma develops from melanocytes.

Melanoma is a less common form of skin cancer, but tends to be more aggressive. Melanoma is more likely to spread to nearby tissues and other parts of the body and can be harder to cure. Finding and treating melanoma skin cancer early may help prevent death from melanoma.

Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is the most frequent malignancy in older men. Its incidence is increasing dramatically, putting aging veterans at very high risk. Non-melanoma skin cancer, formally known as basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma, is the most commonly developed skin cancer affecting 1 million people in the United States each year. It is often easily detected and, when treated properly, has a cure rate of 95 percent, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia, with around 400,000 new cases per year. However, data on incidence and prevalence are not routinely collected.

Non-melanoma skin cancers include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. It is a good idea to talk to your doctor about your level of risk and for advice on early detection.


   
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