A tumor that develops from pigment cells (melanocytes) is called melanoma or skin cancer. In most cases, melanoma affects the skin on areas of the body that were constantly sunburned in the past, albeit it might also occur in the skin on any area of the body. Melanoma usually develops as a new spot on the skin or it can happen from an existing birthmark or freckle. Melanoma is curable when detected at an early stage when it’s very thin. Moreover, it’s preventable. When ignored though, melanoma begins to spread unexpectedly and quickly, growing into a life-threatening type of cancer. Read on to find out how to detect and prevent melanoma.
What are the causes of melanoma?
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, prolonged exposure to the sun and frequent sunburns can trigger melanoma. Whenever you forget to apply sunscreen, the ultraviolet radiation of the sun or any other sources of ultraviolet radiation like sunbeds negatively affect your unprotected skin, causing the changes in the cell structure. Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation leads to the permanent and life-threatening damage of the skin. Protecting the skin from ultraviolet radiation is particularly important during childhood and adolescence years. Too much sunburn during these years increases the risk of developing skin cancer during adulthood.
What are the risk factors?
The most common risk factors are:
- severe sunburns;
- fair skin;
- fair or red hair;
- using sunbeds;
- a huge amount of moles;
- big, unevenly colored and irregularly shaped birthmarks called dysplastic or atypical nevi;
- a family history of melanoma;
- suffering from any skin cancers in the past.
People who have organ transplants are at risk of developing melanoma as well.
What are the signs of melanoma?
The very first indicator of melanoma is typically a change in an existing birthmark or freckle or the appearance of a weirdly looking new spot. The change is visible in color, shape or/and size over a few weeks or/and months. While a regular birthmark or freckle has a smooth edge and an even color, melanoma is characterized by an irregular surface or edge. For instance, it may be spotted with black, brown, red, blue, light grey, or/and white. A birthmark or freckle that bleeds or itches by itself or grows bigger might be a warning sign of melanoma.
The early detection of melanoma
Unlike other types of cancers, skin cancer is easier to detect. The early detection of melanoma guarantees a successful and fast treatment. Melanoma is actually easy to spot – even if you don’t visit a dermatologist regularly. Although dermatologists have a trained eye and notice the early signs of melanoma fast, you can examine your skin too. Because melanoma can affect people of all ages, skin colors, and races, it’s essential to pay attention to your lifestyle and watch your freckles and birthmarks.
Detecting melanoma at home is decidedly low-tech, quick, and easy. You’ll need bright light, a full-length mirror, a comb, and a handheld mirror. Examine every part of the body to find out the size, location, and pattern of your birthmarks, blemishes, and freckles on your skin. This way, you’ll be able to notice any changes that happen quickly. Remember that melanoma may occur even in areas, which are usually not exposed to the sun.
If you have a significant risk factor of developing melanoma, it’s critical to visit a dermatologist on a monthly basis. Visiting medical spa can also help you keep your melanoma risk factor low. Some medical spa centers, like TallmanMedicalSpa.com, combine the healing and rejuvenating properties of a medical spa and a convergence of traditional dermatology. Moreover, these centers provide treatment for cancerous skin growths as well as various skin issues, including skin infections, contact and allergic dermatitis, acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis, among the others.
The prevention of melanoma
Living a healthy lifestyle is probably the most effective way to ward off melanoma. First of all, it’s important to ditch bad habits like smoking and drinking too much alcohol, which can trigger squamous cell carcinomas. Secondly, reconsider your eating habits. Munch on more fruit and veggies that contain the biologically active compounds called phytochemicals. The 2018 study review posted in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences indicated that phytochemicals might benefit in the fight against melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer thanks to their anticancer abilities.
If you’re at the high risk of developing melanoma, talk to your doctor and incorporate the following foods into your diet for a stronger immunity:
- Apigenin that can be found in onions, parsley, wheat grass, and chamomile tea;
- Luteolin that you can spot in spices like sage, oregano, celery seed, and thyme;
- Silymarin that’s found in artichokes;
- Proanthocyanidin that most berries, baking chocolate, and pistachios.
- Fisetin is found in strawberries, persimmons, mangoes, kiwi, and others;
- Indole-3-carbinol can be found in most cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli;
- Genistein that’s found in soy products and chickpeas;
- Capsaicin that chili peppers and red bell peppers contain;
- Curcumin, a component of turmeric that you can add to your meals while cooking.
- Resveratrol, which can be found in tomato sauces and fresh tomatoes;
- Epigallocatechin-3-gallate that green tea contains.
Be sure to use chemicals safely and read instructions carefully. Wear gloves if needed. Most importantly, learn how to stay safe in the sun. Wear an SPF30 sunscreen on skin all day long and avoid the sun between 10 am and 3 pm from September to April.
When it comes to top-quality sunscreen, apply it 25-30 minutes before you head outside. Reapply it every two hours, especially if you’re hanging out outside or near the sea. Don’t forget about drinking plain water and exercise regularly.
Despite a scary name, melanoma can really be detected and prevented at home. If left untreated, melanoma could cause serious health issues. Invest in a good sunscreen and apply it the next time you travel. Remember that even the most expensive sunscreen can guarantee nothing. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and protective clothing as double protection.