Malignant melanoma, or simply melanoma, is a skin cancer that develops inthe melanocytes, which are the cells that secrete the skin pigment melanin, whichgives color to the skin. Malignant melanoma is a cancer that can occur also inthe eyes and the intestines.
Causes of malignant melanoma
Melanoma occurs due to certain mutations within the cells of the skin, andwhen certain DNA changes happen in these cells, they start to grow abnormally and create a mass of cancerous cells. It is not discovered what exactly triggers these DNA changes in the skin cells, but there are several factors that contribute to it. Certain environmental and genetic factors may be responsible for the occurrence of genetic mutationswith the skin cells. However, it is widely known that the people who excessivelyexposed themselves to ultraviolet radiation either from the sun or from thetanning lamps are at high risk to develop melanoma.
Prognosis of malignant melanoma
Prognosis of malignant melanoma depends on the several factors. Secondly, the degree to whichmelanoma has progressed, as well as the stage of the skin cancer, are alsoimportant for the prognosis. Furthermore, the location of melanoma and thetumor thickness also influence the prognosis of this skin cancer.
Four types of melanoma exist and each type has five stages. It is of greatimportance to identify the type of melanoma first and the stage to which it hasprogressed in order to treat it with proper methods and in order to make aprognosis. When melanoma is diagnosed in the stage 0, the patient has all the chancesto survive, since this stage is curable because the cancer only affectedepidermis. In such cases, the prognosis is good. Other four stages of melanoma areinvasive stages, and the severity of the disease increases with each one of them. In thesefour stages, the cancer may spread to the other parts when it is called metastaticmelanoma. However, stage I is still curable, since it is restricted to one areaonly.
What the prognosis of metastatic malignant melanoma will be depends on thestage of the cancer, overall health of the patient, the immune system, age andsex of the patient. It is estimated that woman with melanoma have betterprognosis that men. It is very important to diagnose the disease in the early stages, since theprognosis in the early stages is better, but it tends to worsen along withprogression of the cancer.