Melanocytes are pigment-producing cells in the human body that are responsible to give a person their unique skin, hair, and eye color. Melanoma is a condition that results due to melanocytes mutating and growing out of control. It is one of the most serious types of skin cancer that changes one’s skin color, cause the growth of new moles, or change the pattern of moles throughout the body.
Early detection of melanoma increases the survival rate of an affected individual which is why one must be aware of changes in the skin as it can help indicate various signs of a developing condition. Self-examination can be done to identify certain patterns of moles, freckles, blemishes, and different other marks on the skin. The early signs must not be ignored and it is advised to get immediate medical attention in order to manage the condition in its early stages.
Treatment options for melanoma
A combination of medications, therapy, and surgery is required to manage melanoma.
Surgery: Surgery is a popular option for people who are suffering from the early stages of melanoma. The surgical procedure will be conducted only after the extent to which the cancer has spread has been ascertained. After this, medical professionals will perform a resection of the isolated tumor that may or may not have achieved metastasis.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy involves the use of high energy X-rays to kill the cancer cells before they spread or achieve metastasis. However, persistent exposure to radiation can have negative side effects on the body as the cells could mutate and grow out of control faster than they can be destroyed.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves the use of strong medications to target the cancer cells throughout the body. It is a more complete approach in comparison to surgery or radiation therapy which target specific areas where the tumor has originated from.
Targeted therapy: In this type of therapy, only medications approved by the FDA are used. These medications target only the cancer cells and ensure minimum side effects in the affected area. However, one can suffer from additional side effects including fever, a rash, itching, and increased sensitivity to the sun. Targeted therapy also increases the chances of a person developing squamous cell skin cancer in addition to melanoma.
Immunotherapy: Melanoma can resurface post-treatment as there is no permanent cure as of yet for advanced stages of skin cancer. Medical professionals recommend immunotherapy for people who are at a higher risk of achieving metastasis. Immunotherapy focuses on enhancing the body’s immune response with the use of checkpoint inhibitors, adoptive cell transfer, monoclonal antibodies, and treatment vaccines. By activating or suppressing the immune system, immunotherapy can trigger an appropriate response and destroy cancerous cells. Swelling and weight gain from retaining fluid, experiencing heart palpitations, sinus congestion, and infection are among the common side effects of immunotherapy.
The treatment options for any type of cancer will have side effects and everyone reacts to the treatment option adhered to in a different way. Diarrhea, vitiligo, skin rash, lymphedema, thyroid issues, colitis, fatigue, nausea, itching, fever constipation, and joint pain are among the side effects one might experience. The severity of the side effects will also vary depending on the type of treatment chosen.