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Melanoma by Jackie Bolen

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Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer leading to the cause of death from skin disease. Melanoma can spread very quickly and is an illness that needs to be detected at the beginning for best results. Melanoma, once it has spread to the lymph nodes and/or organs, will very likely cause death. If detected early, with treatment, you may be able to win this horrible battle.

Being aware of your body and the moles that it has is very important. Melanoma can form from a normal-looking mole that you may have had since birth. One sign of melanoma is the abnormality of a mole. They are very different in that most melanomas are going to be flat and irregular in shape. They can be blackish, brown, or even blackish-blue or bluish-red. However, not all melanomas show these abnormalities and that is why if it runs in your family or you see a mole changing over the years, it is better to get it checked out by a professional. Removal of the abnormal mole is crucial to the first step in preventing Melanoma. The doctor has to be very careful in removing the entire affected area. If it has spread to the lymph nodes, those must be removed as well to prevent further spreading to the organs. It has happened, in the case of my father, they did not remove the entire cancerous mole and years later, we found it spread to his organs. He passed away from Melanoma in 1997 when I was 15 years old.

Another way of detecting Melanoma, in the case such as my father’s, is through an eye exam. My father was experiencing eye pain, migraines, and blurriness. When the eye doctor checked him, he found a lump in the back of the eye. That was the Melanoma. Typically, the choroid layer is the area that Melanoma attacks. In his case, the cancer had already spread throughout the body to his organs.

Melanoma is caused by changes in your melanocytes which produce melanin. Melanin is the skin pigment that is responsible for skin and hair color. A person is more vulnerable to developing Melanoma if one is fair-skinned, has blue or green eyes, or red or blonde hair. Excessive exposure to the sun without protection from living, working, or playing outdoors can cause a big change in your melanocyte production. You never, ever want to use a tanning bed. This only increases your chances of developing Melanoma. Even if you are careful to protect yourself, Melanoma can also be carried through genes. This is why it is very important to keep a close eye on your body and any moles that you may have. No matter how hard you try to prevent it, there may not be an option. The key is to detect it early enough to cure it.

Once Melanoma has been found, many tests can be done to help prevent the spreading. CT scans, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation, and surgery are major actions taken on your road to recovery. When going through this, it takes time and has some horrible side effects such as nausea, fatigue, hair loss, and pain. All a person can do to help a loved one going through treatment for Melanoma is to try and make them as comfortable as possible. Be by their side as often as possible and tell them how wonderful they are and how much you love them.
Cancer sucks.


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