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Skin Cancer: Melanoma

Uploaded by alexxx_lev on Nov 04, 2001

What causes melanoma?
Scientists do not yet know exactly what causes melanoma skin cancer, but we do know that certain risk factors are linked to the disease. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be controlled. Others, like a person's age or family history, can't be changed. But having a risk factor, or even several, doesn’t mean that a person will get the disease.

Risk Factors for Melanoma Skin Cancer

  • Moles: Moles are (not cancerous) skin tumors. People with lots of moles, and those who have some large moles, have an increased risk for melanoma.
  • Fair skin: Fair skin, freckling, and light hair increases the risk of melanoma.
  • Family history: Around 10% of people with melanoma have a close relative (mother father, brother, sister, child) with the disease.
  • Immune weakness: People who have been treated with medicines that suppress the immune system have an increased risk of developing melanoma.
  • UV radiation: Too much exposure to UV radiation is a risk factor for melanoma. The main source of such radiation is sunlight.
  • Age: About half of melanomas occur in people over the age of 50. But younger people can get melanoma too.

    What Is Melanoma?
    You've heard the term "melanoma" before, but what does it mean? Let me help you understand. Cancer occurs when cells in a part of the body begin to grow out of control. Although there are many kinds of cancer, they all come about because of rapid growth of abnormal cells. Different kinds of cancer can behave very differently. For example, lung cancer and breast cancer are very different diseases. They grow at different rates and respond to different treatments. That's why people with cancer need treatment that is aimed at their kind of cancer.

    Because they behave differently, skin cancers are divided into two major groups: melanoma skin cancer and nonmelanoma skin cancer. This research report covers melanoma skin cancer only.

    Melanoma begins in the cells (melanocytes) that produce the skin coloring. In order to understand melanoma, it's helpful to learn about normal skin.

    Normal Skin
    The skin is the largest organ in the body. It covers and protects the organs inside the body. It also protects the body against germs and prevents the loss of too much water and other fluids. The skin sends messages to the brain about heat, cold, touch, and pain.

    The skin has three layers. From the outside in, they are: the epidermis, the dermis, and...

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    Uploaded by:   alexxx_lev

    Date:   11/04/2001

    Category:   Biology

    Length:   5 pages (1,229 words)

    Views:   2299

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