Scientists identify several major risk factors for melanoma, including those that can be controlled and those that cannot be changed or controlled. The latter include unfavorable heredity and congenital features of skin pigmentation. A separate risk factor is trauma – accidental or chronic – of an existing mole.
What is melanoma, how to distinguish a harmless mole from a future tumor and protect yourself from the disease – we will tell you in our article.
In the last few years alone, the number of cases of melanoma has increased by almost a half – these are huge numbers (according to WHO, more than 130 thousand new cases of the disease are registered in the world annually). This happens because the recommendations of oncologists are simply ignored, although they are simple and effective. Let’s see how a lifestyle and a lack of care for the skin can cause melanoma, and how to protect yourself from this.
So, melanoma is not cancer in the literal sense of the word, but an aggressive tumor that affects the skin. It develops against the background of the already existing birthmarks. In addition to the skin, melanoma can affect the mucous membrane in the gastrointestinal tract and even in the eyes. But in fact, most often melanoma arises from degenerated benign cells, most often moles.
Why exactly can it mutate into a tumor? Because under the influence of aggressive sunlight, special protective pigments are produced in the skin, “toning” the skin and protecting it from excessive radiation.
Moles are the points of accumulation of melanin, the very pigment. They are mostly benign and do not interfere with life at all. But melanoma is already a malignant formation, reborn from the point of accumulation of melanin under the influence of various factors, including aggressive external influences.
Melanoma is dangerous because it progresses very quickly and is noticed already at a later date, when there is little that can be done. The point is in the diagnosis and infantile behavior of people in relation to their health and skin condition: at the initial stage, it is difficult to distinguish melanoma from an ordinary spot and, if you do not track the growth of moles and their changes, the rebirth happens behind the scenes. Therefore, the most effective method of treatment in case of this form of oncology is its prevention. The disease is much easier to prevent than to cure later.
The main risk factor for melanoma is sunburn from improper tanning in direct sunlight or in a tanning bed. To avoid such sunburn, you need to follow a few rules.
- Avoid sun exposure during the hours of maximum solar activity, that is, from 11:00 to 16:00 hours;
- Always use sunscreen with sufficient protection, selected for your skin. If you have a trip to the highlands, use a cream with an increased level of protection;
- When in the sun, wear protective clothing – a brimmed hat, a shirt with sleeves, a long skirt or trousers;
- Do not overuse active tanning, especially artificial one. Avid tanners risk even more than sunbathers;
- Teach children to be careful in the sun: teach them to use sunscreen and wear protective clothing;
- Use a product with a higher sun protection factor when you are on an elevation;
- Make it a rule to have regular skin examinations and teach your children to do this. Never neglect visiting a dermatologist. Ideally, once a year.
These simple rules will minimize the risk of developing skin cancer and promptly identify precancerous changes and early stages of melanoma, the treatment of which gives almost 100% result.
What is worth doing for those at risk is learning about hereditary diseases. You do not need to be “paranoid” and constantly be afraid of dying from cancer, but it is imperative to know what diseases that could provoke it you have inherited.
This will help to live a complete life and detect in time any disease that can happen. Therefore, follow safety rules, sunbathe properly, take care of your skin, visit doctors on time and remember that even if something happens, at an early stage melanoma is curable in 90% of cases. The main thing is not to be afraid and maintain clarity of thinking. If you do so, you will control what is happening and get every chance to live a very happy and long life.