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Recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of melanoma and skin cancer

5 steps to healthy skin

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a malignant tumor that develops from cells that produce pigment and lead to the development of moles, the so-called melanocytes. Melanoma can occur not only on the skin. It can attack almost any place in our body. In 70% of cases, melanoma forms on the surface of the legs, back, arms, torso and face. Less often it occurs on the inner surface of the hands and feet, under the nail plate, in the eyes and even in the mucous membranes, for example, the gastrointestinal tract, upper and lower respiratory tract.

Who is at risk?

– First of all, people who are fond of visiting tanning salons and like to “fry” in the sun. The fact is that ultraviolet light is the main provoking factor that causes the development of melanoma in 90% of cases. It has three types of radiation, one of which damages the DNA of the cell, which just leads to the occurrence of the disease, and from the other free radicals are formed, which can also lead to the development of a malignant process.

Also at risk are people with a hereditary factor (that is, there were cases of melanoma in the family. Statistics show that the presence of a relative of the first degree of kinship with melanoma (father, mother, brother, sister) increases the risk of this type of malignant tumor during life by 10-15%). Also at risk are people with multiple dysplastic nevi syndrome and a large number of moles (from 50 or more moles of various localization), people with I and II photo-skin types (light-skinned, blue-eyed, fair-haired).

Moles and melanoma: is there a relationship?

I would like to emphasize that the presence of pigmented nevi on the body (which I popularly call moles) and birthmarks does not mean that you have a disease at all. Some people have dozens of moles all over their body and they are all absolutely harmless. But melanoma can occur on the human body even without a single mole. A mole is a benign neoplasm of relatively small size, which most often represents a cluster of nevus cells containing a large amount of the pigment melanin. These cells are grouped in the outer layer of the skin, sometimes descend into the middle layer – the dermis and even less often – into the subcutaneous tissue. Grouped together, nevus cells look like a spot, papule, wart or a small nodule, whose color varies from brown to black. There are various forms of the surface of the formation – from preserving the skin pattern, to bumpy, folded, lobed, papillomatous and smooth.

Signs of melanoma?

Special vigilance should be exercised when new moles appear, especially in the elderly and senile age. Signs such as the rapid growth of a mole, a change in color, surface, shape of the formation, the appearance of itching, pain and other unpleasant sensations associated with a mole, the formation begins to get wet or bleeds periodically, indicate malignant degeneration. In this case, you should immediately consult a doctor.

Diagnosis and treatment?

Treatment begins only after the diagnosis. The form of education, its size, location, age of occurrence and other features are established. Dermatoscopic examination is performed in the standard mode or with the use of various automated systems. In addition, the examination may include an assessment of the lymph nodes closest to the tumor, depending on the location of the melanoma, ultrasound of the abdominal cavity, retroperitoneal space, radiography (or computed tomography) of the chest organs. If necessary, an additional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain is performed, as well as blood tests. Treatment of melanoma is carried out at all stages of the disease. Patients with early forms of melanoma of the skin are subject to surgical treatment. Patients with advanced forms, depending on the clinical situation, may be offered various options for drug therapy – from targeted and immuno-oncological to chemotherapy.

Press Service of the Federal State Budgetary Institution “NMIC of Radiology” of the Ministry of Health of Russia

Published 28 May 2020

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