Melanoma: What Is It And Who Gets It?

Melanoma is one of the more well-known types of skin cancer. It happens most often in adults but can occur in children and adolescents. It is a common type of skin cancer in the sun-drenched landscape of Northern Nevada.

Where Does Melanoma Begin?

If you look at a cross-section of the skin, you will see two distinct layers: the upper epidermis and the lower dermis. At the bottom of the epidermis lies the melanocytes, special cells that make melanin, which gives skin its color. If a melanocyte becomes cancer, that’s the beginning of melanoma.

Men most often get melanoma on their trunk, anywhere from the shoulders extending down to their hips. Women tend to get lesions on their arms and legs. Both get facial and neck lesions are quite common.

Are There Different Types of Melanoma?

Doctors recognize four types of melanoma:

•Superficial spreading melanoma – The most common type of melanoma; it most often appears on the trunk, legs, and arms. It starts growing slowly before spreading.

•Nodular melanoma – Most often found on the head, neck, and trunk; this form of melanoma grows quickly. It tends to be red on the surface.

•Lentigo maligna melanoma – Not as common; this form of melanoma starts as a stain on the skin’s surface. It grows more slowly than the other forms and is, thus, not as dangerous.

•Acral lentiginous melanoma – The least common form of melanoma; it occurs on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. It is more common in people with darker skin.

What Are the Risk Factors for Melanoma?

Anyone can get melanoma. However, there are certain factors which make it more common for certain people. A brief list of risk factors includes:

•Having a light complexion

•Having blue or green eyes

•Having red or blonde hair

•Being exposed to natural or artificial light for long periods

•Having a history of severe sunburns

•Having a family history of the disease

•Having a weakened immune system

Melanoma is not a disease that you should ignore. If left alone, it can spread to other parts of your body. If you suspect that you have this type of cancer, contact Carson Dermatology today in Reno, Nevada.