Malignant melanoma, or simply melanoma, is a skin cancer that develops in the melanocytes, which are the cells that secrete the skin pigment melanin, which gives color to the skin. Malignant melanoma is a cancer that can occur also in the eyes and the intestines.
Causes of malignant melanoma
Melanoma occurs due to certain mutations within the cells of the skin, and when 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 mutations with the skin cells. However, it is widely known that the people who excessively exposed themselves to ultraviolet radiation either from the sun or from the tanning 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 which melanoma has progressed, as well as the stage of the skin cancer, are also important for the prognosis. Furthermore, the location of melanoma and the tumor thickness also influence the prognosis of this skin cancer.
Four types of melanoma exist and each type has five stages. It is of great importance to identify the type of melanoma first and the stage to which it has progressed in order to treat it with proper methods and in order to make a prognosis. When melanoma is diagnosed in the stage 0, the patient has all the chances to survive, since this stage is curable because the cancer only affected epidermis. In such cases, the prognosis is good. Other four stages of melanoma are invasive stages, and the severity of the disease increases with each one of them. In these four stages, the cancer may spread to the other parts when it is called metastatic melanoma. However, stage I is still curable, since it is restricted to one area only.
What the prognosis of metastatic malignant melanoma will be depends on the stage of the cancer, overall health of the patient, the immune system, age and sex of the patient. It is estimated that woman with melanoma have better prognosis that men. It is very important to diagnose the disease in the early stages, since the prognosis in the early stages is better, but it tends to worsen along with progression of the cancer.