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Skin Cancer Essay, Research Paper


Melanoma is the one of the rarest forms of skin cancer, yet the most life threatening. Most people consider a tan an attractive, healthy looking feature. About 30% of melanoma appears on a mole. The rest get started on normal skin that s exposed to sunlight. Melamcytes is the body s pigment cells. They usually do good, but in some causes they can be deadly. They give skin its natural color and when struck by the sun, darken and protect the skin. They also come together and form moles. UV rays appear to trigger melanocytes and turn cancerous in some people. In most cases moles are what turn cancerous. This disease spreads to the liver and lungs and other vital organs (Goldsmith).

There are many things that cause Melanoma. Over exposure to the sunlight causes your melamcytes in your body to turn cancerous. Most people are exposed to more then 50% of the sunlight there ever going to be exposed to by the age of 18 (Diseases vol.5). Regular use of sunlamps and sun beds also increase the risk of skin cancer. Radiotherapy given to treat other conditions can sometimes cause skin cancer, later in life. Other possibilities are certain chemicals, such as coal tar, soot, pitch, asphalt, creosotes, hair dyes, and arsenic (Westerdaul) There are also some rare hereditary conditions that can lead to the development of skin cancer. Some people have family members who have developed cancerous moles, and they have a greater chance of developing skin cancer if they don t use the proper protection against it.

There are many signs of melanoma. If a mole changes size, shape, swells up bleeds, itches, becomes painful, tender, softens, crumbles, crusts, or


develops a color around it these are all signs of Melanoma (Diseases vol. 5). People with fair skin, light eyes, light hair have a much greater chance of developing Melanoma. People who have freckles, or who have gotten badly sunburned as a child, aren t able to tan, or have a past history of family members developing melanoma have a much greater chance as well. People with dark skin have less of a chance of developing Melanoma; because of the melanin pigment in their skin gives them protection. They also do have to watch for melanoma, just because they have less of a chance of developing it, doesn t make them immune to it (Mosby s Medical, Nursing, and Allied Health Dictionary).

The environment is also another big reason why more people are getting Melanoma. Because of the reduction of the ozone in the earth’s atmosphere, the level of UV light today is higher than it was 50 or 100 years ago. Ozone serves as a filter to screen out and reduce the amount of UV light that we are exposed to (Westerdaul). With less atmospheric ozone, a higher level of UV light reaches the earth’s surface.

People who stay in the sun for an excessive amount of time, are at a greater risk as well. Sunlamps and sun beds are another big cause of skin cancer; some people believe that you are not in the suns rays for too long, so it causes less harm to your skin. There are many ways to prevent Melanoma. If you know your going to be in the sun where sun block with at least SPF of 15. Wear a hat with a broad brim. The use of tanning salons should be kept as low as possible. UV rays age the DNA; it is the main cause of melanoma. Men most often get melanoma between the shoulders, hips,

on the head, or neck. Women most often get melanoma on the arms and legs (Westerdaul).


In the United States, the cause of Melanoma is rising faster than almost any other cancer, striking Americans at twice the rate today as it did 2 decades ago. This year more than 44,000 people are expected to be diagnosed, and 7,300 could die. Anyone ho has used sunlamps faced a 30% greater risk of melanoma, then those who had never used them. Experts report Melanoma is on the rise. It can strike at any age. Doctors say that it is becoming more and more common on young patients (Jacoby 1044-1045).

The way to treat melanoma is to remove it surgically, along with some healthy skin around it. If the melanoma is big then the piece of skin being removed will be big too, because there is a good chance that the cancerous cells have spread. If the melanoma has spread near the lymph nodes, they may have to be removed as well (Goldsmith). Depending on the stage of melanoma, other treatment, including anticancer drugs, may be needed. Examinations on a regular basis are necessary because the cancer may reappear. Treatment is successful in about 85% of cases. Other treatments are radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Melanoma can be deadly, if not treated early enough.

One of the reasons I picked this topic for my term paper is because about 9 months ago a close family member of my family, who was only 32 years old got diagnosed with melanoma. I saw what she went through, just being around her, seeing how sad she was, and how she tried to hide her feelings. She went through a lot of pain both physically and mentally because of this. Unfortunately, they detected it way too late, there was nothing they could do help her. They told her she didn t have a lot longer because it had spread all over her body. There was a tiny mole on her lower back all her life, but from the sun, she had developed skin cancer. The only reason she


even noticed the mole was because she had a rash on her back and went to the doctor to get cream for it. Now she is dead because of this horrible disease.

Melanoma is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer; unfortunately people fail to recognize the risks of excessive exposure to sunlight. If people just stopped to look at their body for any abnormalities every now and then, and protected there skin by using a sunscreen of at least SPF15, some of these unnecessary deaths could have been prevented.

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