Melanoma is a skin cancer that is great cause for alarm. Not the most common type of cancer affecting the skin, melanoma is certainly the most detrimental to health. This form of skin cancer is related to the cells responsible for the production of melanin, called melanocytes. Melanin is the substance that gives us our skin coloration, and also the substance that protects against harmful UV rays. What is interesting is that it is exposure to these rays that can cause dysfunction within the cells.
Melanocytes, when exposed to UV rays from natural sunlight, as well as tanning beds, produce excessive amounts of melanin. This is what leads to that nice golden tan, or the sunburn. In instances of too much exposure to UV rays has taken place, these cells may actually develop abnormal growth patterns, or melanoma.
Melanoma is often discovered as an existing mole changes shape, size, or color. While it is wise to maintain a close eye on all moles, this skin cancer can form as a completely new mole.
Affecting both men and women, melanoma may show up differently on the two genders.
- Men may find melanoma on: The head, neck, shoulders or the torso
- Women tend to find melanoma on: Lower legs
- People with darker skin tone may develop melanoma on: Palms of the hands, under the finger or toenails, soles of the feet
Although there are certain norms, it is important to be vigilant both in practicing sun protection and in checking the skin regularly. Melanoma can develop on any part of the body.