Melanoma Cancer: Check yourself and your loved ones!!
Melanoma (Wikipedia) /?m?l??no?m?/ (from Greek μ?λας - melas, "dark") is a malignanttumor of melanocytes. Melanocytes are cells that produce the dark pigment, melanin, which is responsible for the color of skin. They predominantly occur in skin, but are also found in other parts of the body, including the bowel and the eye (see uveal melanoma). Melanoma can occur in any part of the body that contains melanocytes.
Melanoma is less common than other skin cancers. However, it is much more dangerous and causes the majority (75%) of deaths related to skin cancer. Worldwide, doctors diagnose about 160,000 new cases of melanoma yearly. The diagnosis is more frequent in women than in men and is particularly common among Caucasians living in sunny climates, with high rates of incidence in Australia, New Zealand, North America, Latin America, and northern Europe. According to a WHO report, about 48,000 melanoma related deaths occur worldwide per year.
The treatment includes surgical removal of the tumor, adjuvant treatment, chemo- and immunotherapy, or radiation therapy. The chance of a cure is greatest when the tumor is discovered while it is still small and thin, and can be entirely removed surgically.
Signs and symptoms
Early signs of melanoma are changes to the shape or color of existing moles or, in the case of nodular melanoma, the appearance of a new lump anywhere on the skin (such lesions should be referred without delay to a dermatologist). At later stages, the mole may itch, ulcerate or bleed. Early signs of melanoma are summarized by the mnemonic "ABCDE":
· Borders (irregular)
· Color (variegated), and
· Diameter (greater than 6 mm (0.24 in), about the size of a pencil eraser)
· Evolving over time
These classifications do not, however, apply to the most dangerous form of melanoma, nodular melanoma, which has its own classifications:
· Elevated above the skin surface
· Firm to the touch
Metastatic melanoma may cause nonspecific paraneoplastic symptoms, including loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Metastasis of early melanoma is possible, but relatively rare: less than a fifth of melanomas diagnosed early become metastatic. Brain metastases are particularly common in patients with metastatic melanoma.
Livestrong bracelet: These yellow bracelets represent the Lance Armstrong Foundation .
My livestrong bracelet was given to me by my husband in 2004. I wore this bracelet to remind me of the struggle my mother who had lung cancer, and my sister who had melanoma(happy to say today my sister is in remission) were facing everyday. Everytime I thought I couldn't get through my training sessions or stay on my eating plan, this reminded me of their struggles and pain, and reminded me how fortunate I am to have my health. I told my mother I would not take off this bracelet until she beat this disease. In 2005 my mother lost her struggle with cancer and died...I still wear this bracelet today. -Jackie
Listed below: How to give a self breast exam
Definition of Cancer
Cancer: An abnormal growth of cells which tend to proliferate in an uncontrolled way and, in some cases, to metastasize (spread).
Cancer is not one disease. It is a group of more than 100 different and distinctive diseases.
Cancer can involve any tissue of the body and have many different forms in each body area. Most cancers are named for the type of cell or organ in which they start. If a cancer spreads (metastasizes), the new tumor bears the same name as the original (primary) tumor.
The frequency of a particular cancer may depend on gender. While skin cancer is the most common type of malignancy for both men and women, the second most common type in men is prostate cancer and in women, breast cancer.
Cancer frequency does not equate to cancer mortality. Skin cancers are often curable. Lung Cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer for both men and women in the United States today.
Benign tumors are NOT cancer; malignant tumors are cancer. Cancer is NOT contagious.
Cancer is the Latin word for crab. The ancients used the word to mean a malignancy, doubtless because of the crab-like tenacity a malignant tumor sometimes seems to show in grasping the tissues it invades. Cancer may also be called malignancy, a malignant tumor, or a neoplasm (literally, a new growth).
How to give a self Breast Exam
The most effective way to fight breast cancer is to detect it early. A breast self-exam may help, although the most effective tools to detect breast cancer are mammography and clinical breast exam by your health professional. In fact, women who perform regular breast self-exams find 90% of all breast masses.
What Is a Breast Self-Exam and Why Should I Do It?
The breast self-exam is a way that you can check your breasts for changes (such as lumps or thickenings) that may signal breast cancer. When breast cancer is detected in its early stages, your chances for surviving the disease are greatly improved. While 80% of all breast lumps are not cancerous, you can help catch potentially serious changes in the breast early by regularly performing a self-exam.
When Should I Perform a Breast Self-Exam?
It is good to start performing breast self exams in your 20's. You should examine your breasts once a month, three to five days after your menstrual period ends. If you have stopped menstruating, perform the exam on the same day of each month, such as the first day of the month or a day easy for you to remember, such as your birth date. With each exam, you will become familiar with the contours and feel of your breasts, and will be more alert to changes.
How Do I Perform a Breast Self-Exam?
To perform a breast self-exam, follow the steps described below.
In the mirror:
1. Stand undressed from the waist up in front of a large mirror in a well-lit room. Look at your breasts. Don't be alarmed if they do not look equal in size or shape. Most women's breasts aren't. With your arms relaxed by your sides, look for any changes in size, shape or position, or any changes to the skin of the breasts. Look for any skin puckering, dimpling, sores or discoloration. Inspect your nipples and look for any sores, peeling or change in the direction of the nipples.
2. Next, place your hands on your hips and press down firmly to tighten the chest muscles beneath your breasts. Turn from side to side so you can inspect the outer part of your breasts.
3. Then bend forward toward the mirror. Roll your shoulders and elbows forward to tighten your chest muscles. Your breasts will fall forward. Look for any changes in the shape or contour of your breasts.
4. Now, clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward. Again, turn from side to side to inspect your breasts' outer portions. Remember to inspect the border underneath your breasts. You may need to lift your breasts with your hand to see this area.
5. Check your nipples for discharge (fluid). Place your thumb and forefinger on the tissue surrounding the nipple and pull outward toward the end of the nipple. Look for any discharge. Repeat on your other breast.
In the shower
6. Now, it's time to feel for changes in the breast. It is helpful to have your hands slippery with soap and water. Check for any lumps or thickening in your underarm area. Place your left hand on your hip and reach with your right hand to feel in the left armpit. Repeat on the other side.
7. Check both sides for lumps or thickenings above and below your collarbone.
8. With hands soapy, raise one arm behind your head to spread out the breast tissue. Use the flat part of your fingers from the other hand to press gently into the breast. Follow an up-and-down pattern along the breast, moving from bra line to collarbone. Continue the pattern until you have covered the entire breast. Repeat on the other side.
9. Next, lie down and place a small pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder. Put your right hand behind your head. Place your left hand on the upper portion of your right breast with fingers together and flat. Body lotion may help to make this part of the exam easier.
10. Think of your breast as a face on a clock. Start at 12 o'clock and move toward 1 o'clock in small circular motions. Continue around the entire circle until you reach 12 o'clock again. Keep your fingers flat and in constant contact with your breast. When the circle is complete, move in one inch toward the nipple and complete another circle around the clock. Continue in this pattern until you've felt the entire breast. Make sure to feel the upper outer areas that extend into your armpit.
11. Place your fingers flat and directly on top of your nipple. Feel beneath the nipple for any changes. Gently press your nipple inward. It should move easily.
Repeat steps 9, 10 and 11 on your other breast.
Interestingly, cancerous tumors are more likely to be found in certain parts of the breast over others. If you divide the breast into 4 sections, the approximate percentage of breast cancers found in each area are (in clockwise pattern):
· 41% upper, outer quadrant
· 14% upper, inner quadrant
· 5% lower, inner quadrant
· 6% lower, outer quadrant
· 34% in the area behind the nipple
Almost half occur in the upper outer quadrant of the breast, towards the armpit. Some physicians refer to this region as the "tail" of the breast and encourage women to examine it closely.
What Should I Do If I Find a Lump?
See your healthcare provider if you discover any new breast changes, changes that persist after your menstrual cycle, or other changes that you are concerned about. Conditions that should be checked by a doctor include:
· An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast.
· A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle.
· A change in the size, shape or contour of the breast.
· A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea.
· A marble-like area under the skin.
· A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple (dimpled, puckered, scaly or inflamed).
· Bloody or clear fluid discharge from the nipples.
· Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple.
Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center