Health and Human Diseases
Malignant melanoma can be a very deadly type of skin cancer that originates from the melanocyte cells of the skin. If discovered and treated early it is almost always curable. Most melanomas are black or brown, but can also be pink, red, skin-colored, purple and even blue or white. When melanocytes (the cells that produce pigment to color our skin, hair and eyes) are damaged, it can lead to uncontrolled growth of the cell, causing melanoma. Melanoma begins on the surface of the skin. From there it can metastasis rapidly, invading nearby cells, blood and lymphatic vessels and organs. Skin Cancer is the most common type of cancer, although melanoma accounts for less than 5% of skin cancer cases, it causes the majority of skin cancer related deaths. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 68,130 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the United States during 2010 (about 38,870 in men; 29,260 in women). Incidence rates for melanoma have been increasing for at least 30 years.
Although anyone can get melanoma, it is much more common in fair skinned people than those with darker complexions. Melanoma occurs in people over a wide age bracket. Rates continue to increase with age, the highest being among people in their 80’s, and yet still one of the most common cancers in young adults.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation seems to play a large role in the development of this disease. Intermittent, intense sun exposure, especially as a child or teenager can put someone at high risk for developing melanoma. It has been shown that melanoma is more common among white collar workers than individuals whose work is based primarily outdoors, suggesting that fluorescent lighting may increase risk for the disease. UV radiation from indoor tanning equipment has also shown to increase the risk. A weakened immune system plays a role. Family history increases the likelihood of...