Like all cancers, skin cancer is a disease in which the body’s cells grow out of control. As one of the most common cancers, it can affect anyone and everyone. The most preventable way to decrease your chances of getting skin cancer is to avoid overexposure to ultraviolet light (or UV light) from the sun or tanning beds.

Protecting yourself year-round, whether you’re at the beach in the summertime or gardening in the winter, is key to reducing your risk of skin cancer. Another way to reduce your risk is to know and understand the first signs of melanoma. If caught early, melanoma can be treated in its earliest stage. 

At Immunity Therapy Center, we’re dedicated to helping you broaden your knowledge of different types of cancers, so you can take control of your health and continue on with your journey to wellness through a skin cancer natural treatment plan. Let’s take a closer look at what melanoma is, what the early melanoma symptoms are as well as advanced ones, and what to pay attention to in and on your body.

Understanding Melanoma

Melanoma is a kind of skin cancer that forms when melanocytes grow uncontrollably — which are the cells that give skin its tan or brown color through melanin. Melanin is also what protects the deep skin layers from the harmful effects of sun exposure. 3

Though it’s not as common as squamous and basal cell carcinoma, it’s also more dangerous since it has a higher chance of spreading throughout the body. 

Melanomas can develop anywhere on the skin but are more likely to develop on the legs for women and on the back and chest for men. Other common sites include the neck and the face. Although anyone can get melanoma, the risk in these common sites is lowered if you have darkly pigmented skin.

What Are the Early Signs of Melanoma?

Identifying skin cancer early will help when it comes to treating it later. According to the American Cancer Society, one of the most significant warning signs of melanoma is a new mole or a spot that has changed in shape, size or color. Also, keep an eye out for atypical moles that look different than others on your body, often referred to as the ugly duckling sign. 1

You may have heard of the ABCDE rule that serves as a guideline for the first signs of melanoma. Memorize these guidelines and do a monthly self-exam to see if your moles or spots exhibit the following:

  1. A stands for Asymmetry — where half of one mole is different from the other. 
  2. B stands for Border — which means the mole has irregular, notched, ragged or blurred edges. 
  3. C stands for Color – where the color isn’t consistent all over and includes various shades of brown and black in addition to pink, red, white, or blue patches. 
  4. D stands for Diameter — so that you can recognize if a spot is larger than about 1/4 inch across (or roughly the size of a pencil eraser. Keep in mind that melanomas can also be smaller than this. 
  5. E stands for Evolving — or noticing if a spot has become a different size, shape, or color. 

Additional top signs of melanoma include a sore that doesn’t heal or pigment that spreads into the surrounding skin. You also want to look for redness, irritation, or swelling beyond the mole’s border and stay aware if it is itchy, tender, or painful. A mole’s surface can also experience changes that cause oozing, bleeding, scaliness, or a lump or bump.

Always keep your doctor updated if there are any changes or new spots that appear to be different than others. Remember that some melanomas don’t fit into the rules listed above — and ordinary moles are often difficult to differentiate from melanoma (even for doctors). Melanomas can also start in places other than the skin, like inside the mouth or underneath a fingernail. They can even show up in your eye’s iris. As with all cancers, catching melanoma in its early stages means that it’s more likely to be cured.  

When you do your monthly self-exam, go to a well-lit room and stand in front of a large mirror.  Look in the mirror to observe areas you normally can’t see or enlist the help of a family and friend to check places like your back and scalp. 

What Do Normal Moles Look Like?

When you’re comparing a cancerous mole to a normal mole, it’s good to keep in mind that most people have moles and almost all of them are harmless. 

A normal mole tends to be evenly colored brown, tan, or black. These benign moles are flat or raised, round or oval, and tend to be less than 1/4 inch across. Although some moles are present when you’re born, we also develop moles during childhood and as young adults. If you find new moles appearing later in life, it’s a good idea to get them checked out by your dermatologist or doctor, as this is less common. 1

When a mole forms, it usually remains the same shape, size, and color. That’s why recognizing when moles change is a crucial step in detecting the first signs of melanoma.

What Does it Mean When Melanoma Spreads?

In addition to becoming familiar with the early signs of melanoma, it’s also important to be aware of the later warning signs of melanoma. When melanoma has spread to it’s most advanced stage, stage 4, this means it has reached different parts of the body. Though these top signs of melanoma vary from person to person, below are some of the features of advanced melanoma. 2

Tumor Size

Typically, tumor sizes in stage 4 are four millimeters thick, or more. However, keep in mind that the tumor size doesn’t always coincide with the cancer stage. Treatment for melanoma, for example, might shrink a tumor, though the tumor can still spread.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

If cancer has spread to the lymph nodes from the original cancer site, they might feel hard and swollen. They can also become joined together, which causes them to feel lumpy. 

Difficulty Breathing

Melanoma can move to the lungs, which means patients might experience a persistent cough or difficulty breathing. They might also feel discomfort in the chest due to fluid collecting around the lungs. 

Stomach Ache

If patients have stomach aches in the right side of the abdomen below the lower ribs, this might be a sign that the melanoma has spread to the liver. This can also cause a lack of appetite, yellow skin, and a build-up of fluid in the abdomen. 

Broken Bones

Malignant melanoma can sometimes spread to the bones which can cause weakness, pain, and discomfort. 

Additional Symptoms

General symptoms of melanoma might also include things like fatigue, bowel problems, weight loss, and overall feelings of sickness.

Steps to Preventing Skin Cancer and Melanoma

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, protecting yourself against skin cancer and melanoma requires a complete approach. UV radiation from sun exposure can reach you even when you’re not expecting it — like in cloudy weather or as it bounces up from the snow. Here are a variety of tips to add to your skin cancer prevention routine. The risk of melanoma is not to be taken lightly, and in taking the step towards preventative measure as well as knowing the early signs of melanoma, you can protect yourself.

Shade

If you’re outside, find shade, especially between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM.

Sunburns

Do not get sunburned, and avoid it by covering up with clothing and a broad-brimmed hat.

Sunscreen

Use sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher every day. If you’re going in the water, use water-resistant, broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunblock with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours after swimming or sweating.

Infants

Keep newborn babies out of the sun and apply sunscreen to babies over six months.

So, is melanoma treatable? Understanding the beginning of melanoma and the early melanoma symptoms is a crucial part of treating skin cancer. Like all cancer, early detection is key and becoming familiar with what to look for is important. Check your skin regularly and follow the ABCDE guidelines. Share the guidelines with family and friends, so they can know what to look for, too. Keep in mind that most spots and moles are harmless, but if you’re in doubt, get it checked out by your dermatologist or doctor. 

Reaching Out for Alternatives

If you are diagnosed with melanoma, rest assured that Immunity Therapy Center is here to help you with a customized skincare alternative treatment plan. Cancer is different for everyone and we understand that every diagnosis is unique. We also know how difficult it can be to hear the word melanoma — which is why we’ve made it our mission to provide a loving and safe environment for our patients. Through non-invasive therapies and natural remedies for skin cancer like diet, you will start feeling more energized and motivated each day than you would with traditional cancer treatments. 

If diagnosed, we will come up with a plan together that boosts your immune system and gives you strength for the journey ahead. From all of us at Immunity Therapy Center, thanks for reading. We’re wishing you a day of love and light ahead. 

As always, feel free to contact us. Our team is always here and happy to help. 

 

Sources: 

  1. cancer.org. Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma Skin Cancer https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-and-symptoms.html
  2. healthcentral.com. 5 Signs Melanoma Has Spread.
  3. https://www.healthcentral.com/slideshow/5-signs-melanoma-has-spread
  4. cancer.org. What is Melanoma Skin Cancer?
  5. cdc.gov. Basic Information About Skin Cancer
  6. skincancer.org. Skin Cancer Prevention