If you have noticed an area of skin that has a mole that has changed over
time, become darker or larger, the chances are good that you have discovered a melanoma in situ. What this means is that you have found a cancerous cell on your skin. Treatment is pretty simple and usually results in total removal of the cancer and seldom returns.
What is in situ?
This means that the cancer is completely contained within the area. If caught early enough the doctor can actually remove the skin area affected and may even remove the surrounding skin to ensure complete removal of the cancer.
Early stage melanoma is referred to by doctors as Stage 0 Melanoma or pre-cancer. If it is not caught and removed early enough the cell can become invasive and attach other cells below the skin and deeper still until the cancer becomes deadly.
Sadly, this condition is preventable and treatable, but some people do not recognize the condition and do not seek care. About 75% of the deaths due to skin disease are caused by advanced stage melanoma, which means that about 48,000 deaths a year occur as a result.
Women tend to get melanoma in situ on their legs, while men tend to get it on their backs, so it may be hard to actually notice the condition’s presence.
More lighter skinned people get melanoma than darker skinned people and more people in the northern hemisphere deal with it than those in the southern hemisphere, which may be related to the pigmentation of the people in the two hemisphere.
Treatment is actually pretty simple and can be accomplished in a doctor’s
outpatient care offices. After the cell is removed the nurse will explain how to care for the treated area and may provide information regarding how to do self-examinations to stay ahead of any other cancerous skin conditions.
Usually, there is no after-care required. The only times a doctor may want to see you again is if you have other significant moles or a family history of melanoma.
What does melanoma in situ look like?
If you notice an area of your skin or a mole that is irregularly shaped, has changed color, has become larger in area that is larger than the area of a pencil eraser, you should get it checked out. Later stage melanoma that has become dangerous will be raised from the surface of the skin, be firm to the touch and appear to be growing in size.
If you are treated for later stage melanoma you will likely receive follow up care that will include chemotherapy, immune-therapy or radiation therapy. If necessary you will receive all three, it depends on the location and intensity of the cancer you are fighting.
Prevention is the best thing for your skin
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure or so they say. In this case,
that makes sense. If you know you are prone to skin disease due to past history or family history you should take precautions such as wearing a hat, sunglasses (the color of the eye can develop melanoma), covering clothing, and SPF 30 sun screen.
You should also stay out of the sun when it is at its peak strength to prevent burns protect your sensitive skin from any outbreak of melanoma.
You have one body to take care of and you should take every measure to protect it. It is after all the only one you have to live in.