Definition: Melanoma is a disease of the skin in which cancer cells are found in the melanocytes, the cells that produce color in the skin or pigment known as melanin. It is a rare butpotentially serious type of skin cancer in which skin cells lose the ability to divide and grow normally.
Real causes: Experts believe that many cases of melanoma are caused by excessive exposure toultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. UV rays damage DNA, the genetic material that makes up genes. Genes control the growth and health of skin cells. If the genetic damage is severe, a normal skincell may begin to grow in the uncontrolled, disorderly way of cancer cells. Abnormal genes that children inherit from their parents may make them more likely to get melanoma. Inherited geneticcharacteristics can include physical appearance (such as pale skin) as well as hidden tendencies to develop certain diseases. Scientists have discovered a gene, called the p16 gene, which can cause malignantmelanomas.
Myths: It is a very common myth that age spots would automatically be a sign of skin cancer. That is not the case. Age spots themselves are very rarely cancerous. In fact, scientificallythinking the liver spots do not pose any medical problems (except psychological) and are not dangerous in any ways.
Specific structures that are affected and how: Melanoma starts in the melanocytes,which are found mainly in the lower part of the epidermis. Melanoma is serious because the malignant cells tend to spread rapidly from the skin to internal organs. Although most pigment-producing cellsare in the skin, some of these types of cells occur in other parts of the body and can also become malignant. Although it is rare, melanoma also can start in the gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes,brain, and other areas of the body.
Prevention: Do not expose that much to direct sunlight and always use sunscreen. Examine your moles regularly, so that you can detect any alteration or problem...