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Melanoma: Beauty That Kills By Holly Mitchell

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Long summer days basking by the poolside, going on float trips, mowing the lawn, or even just relaxing outside, can give almost anyone that beautiful much desired American tan. If someone’s skin does not tan, they may just enjoy being in the sun because of the relaxation it offers. However, many people overlook the risks that come with spending time in the sunshine, one of which is Melanoma the deadliest form of skin cancer.

The sun can cause damage to skin cells’ DNA and in turn the cells mutate causing uncontrollable multiplication. This spot or spots where this phenomenon occurs is usually within pigment producing cells called melanocytes, and causes a malignant tumor, which is in most cases harmful. The tumor is usually slightly raised and brown, black, pink, red, purple, or skin colored in appearance and fairly small. Many people mistake it for a mole and think it is nothing to worry about. If not treated the cancerous cells can flake off into the blood stream and spread throughout the body causing cancer other places.

The main cause of Melanoma is prolonged UV exposure and sunburns, but some people are more susceptible than others because of genetics. People with more moles have a greater risk of being struck with Melanoma. If moles are “atypical” in other words unsymmetrical in appearance, then they can provide an easy environment for the cancer to develop. Fair skinned people are more susceptible than dark skinned people because they easily burn in the sun causing more damage to their cells. Also, a weakened immune system or a previous case of Melanoma can leave someone more at risk.

If someone does become a victim of Melanoma, there are treatment options. If the cancer is caught early enough the mole or spot affected can be removed in a doctor’s office usually under local anesthesia. To be sure all of it is removed the doctor must get rid of more than just the spot and usually one to two centimeters of surrounding skin. Sometimes however, this may be done with a laser and no blood is lost, but a scar will still appear. If it is not early enough radiation or chemotherapy may have to be used, which can have lasting effects on the body such as: hair loss, appetite loss, weight loss, weakness, or other symptoms. If none of these work or are unsuccessful then unfortunately the Melanoma will likely be fatal.

Melanoma is known as a silent killer because it is easily over looked. In the United States many people die each year from this cancer, but there are ways to prevent it. One way is to wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least fifteen, whether you’ll be in the sun for twenty minutes or ten hours. Always be sure to reapply the sunscreen as directed by the bottle. Try to wear a hat and sunglasses that will protect from harmful UV rays. Keep babies and small children out of the sun and keep them hydrated as well as yourself. Do not use indoor tanning beds because of the large amount of UV rays given off. Most importantly see a doctor annually to check the skin for any abnormal moles or abscesses that may be harmful. Having that gorgeous tan or just being too lazy to apply sunscreen is not worth the risk of getting Melanoma. This is a serious and life threatening cancer that should not be taken lightly.



1.)”Skin Cancer Foundation.” Skin Cancer Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2013.


2.) “Melanoma.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2013.

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3.) “Melanoma.” National Cancer Institute. N.p, Web. 21 May 2013




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