What is Melanoma Cancer ?
The changing and spreading of the healthy melanocytes growing uncontrollably form the cancer cells. This type of cancer is malignant, i.e. it can spread and grow. The melanoma is seen developing from a person’s own mole. It can start from anywhere on the body such as skin under fingernails, head, neck, the genitals and palms or feet.
It is considered one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer. Early melanoma can be cured with a surgical operation. The melanoma can be diagnosed in other places such as eye, vagina and anus. These kinds of melanoma can be caused by exposure to the harmful UV rays in the sunlight, indoor tanning, gene inheritance and race or ethnicity.
Stages of Melanoma Cancer
The stage can be determined by the thickness, depth of penetration, and the level of melanoma throughout the body. Considering the stage, the melanoma can be curable or minimized to a certain extent. The following stages are seen in a person suffering from melanoma:
- Stage 0: The melanoma cells are only found in the outer layer of the skin or the epidermis and just stay in the place in cluster.
- Stage I: In this stage as well, the cells are on the skin and is very thin.
- Stage II: The thin melanoma starts getting thicker and moves towards the dermis of the skin. It is also in the state of spreading.
- Stage III: The stage can be detected as the melanoma cells will be spreading to the lymph nodes located near the starting point or on the way to the lymph node.
- Stage IV : The melanoma spreads through the bloodstream to the other body parts such as the soft tissues, lymph nodes or organs such as gastrointestinal tract, liver, brain or bone. This stage is the last stage of melanoma.
Treatment of Melanoma
The treatment of melanoma, different surgeons work together to plan for the surgery of the patient. The different doctors that may be involved are dermatologist, surgical oncologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and a pathologist. The various types of treatments for melanoma are: surgery, radiation therapy, adjuvant immunotherapy and new adjuvant drug treatments. Factors such as age, location and number of metastasis, presence of specific genetic mutations in the tumor and spread of the tumor are considered in determining treatment. Surgeries are performed only during the stages 0, I and II. Chemotherapy is used for treatment only when the patient’s condition is seen at the stage of III and IV. Many types of traditional chemotherapy are still in use today but only on a limited basis. Drugs like dacarbazine (DCIT) and temozolomide are used in the treatment of melanoma as it has fewer side effects. These are given orally or intravenously to the patient. These drugs are used for the patients in stage IV as they helps in the shrinkage of the melanoma. But these drugs do not have a specific time as to how long it will work. Some other drugs such as the nab- paclitaxel, cisplatin, carboplatin and vinblastine may also be used for the treatment of the disease.
There are many side effects of chemotherapy. The side effects occur depending on which type of chemo drug is used. Loss of hair, soaring of mouth, loss of appetite, diarrhea and fatigue are some of the side effects commonly seen.