What is melanoma situ?
Melanoma in situ is the early stage of a skin cancer called melanoma. Melanoma is thus a type of skin cancer that begins in cells called melanocytes. The term in situ, which means “in place“ in Latin means that the cancer cells have not had the opportunity to spread to anywhere else in the body. This cancer cells start at the top layer of the skin (the epidermis) but they are contained at this area. So doctor also call it stage 0 melanoma because they have not spread to deeper layers of the skin or they have not become invasive. But if not treated melanoma in situ cancer can develop into invasive cancer.
What causes melanoma situ?
The most common and preventable cause of melanoma in situ is exposure to too much sunlight. People who have had a lot of sun burns especially during the first 20 years of their life are at particular risk. The much use of artificial source of ultraviolet light can also put you at higher risk of getting melanoma.
Is melanoma situ hereditary? Although rare, melanoma can run in families. About 1 in 10 of people with melanoma has family members who have also had one. The reason for this is that fair skin is inherited thus somebody have a higher risk of developing melanoma if a blood relative had melanoma.
Having also a fair complexion like red or blond hair, green or blue eyes, or skin that easily freckles or sunburns raises your risks of developing melanoma.
Types of melanoma
There are four type of melanoma. The unique features of each can help you to recognize features that allows for earlier detection.
Super spreading melanoma is the common type and also common type diagnosed in young people. Usually, it looks like a brown-black stain that is spreading from a mole. Super spreading melanoma normally occurs on skin that is sometimes exposed to high levels of sunlight or artificial UV light.
Nodular melanoma is the type that grows more quickly into the dermis than any other type. Nodular melanoma tends to be deeper than any other type when it is found. It looks like a dome-shaped bump and feels firm. It also tends to bleed and ulcerate more often than other types.
Lentigo maligna melanoma tends to grow slower than other type and develop mostly in sites of chronic sun exposure in old adults. When it begins, it usually looks like a dark, flat stain with an uneven border.
Acral lentiginous melanoma is the type that is not related to UV light exposure. It mostly occurs on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet and can appear as a dark spot, like a bruise that doesn’t go away. It’s the least common type of melanoma.
Symptoms of melanoma in situ
More than often the first sign of melanoma is a mole or spot on the skin which usually looks abnormal. They start as minor changes in the shape, size or color of an existing mole while others begin as a dark area that can look like a new mole. Most in situ melanomas do not produce any symptoms, such as pain, itching, bleeding or oozing. It is important to find melanoma before it grows in deep skin because treatment is more likely to cure it before it spread.
Treatment of melanoma
The treatment for melanoma in situ is through surgical. It is also advised that people who have had a melanoma in situ removed may need another operation. This is to ensure a wider margin is created and to reduce the chance of the melanoma coming back at the original site. During the operation, some healthy skin will be removed from around the original scar to make absolutely sure that all of the melanoma has been taken away, and this makes the scar larger than before. Occasionally a skin graft will be needed.
Most important way to prevent melanoma is to limit your exposure and to avoid tanning in the sun. There are ways to protect your skin like staying in the shade, wear clothes that protect your skin, use broad-spectrum sunscreen, wear sunglasses and don’t use tanning beds.
UV Protection Swimwear
UV Protection Swimwear
Sun protection clothing, sun hats and sun protective swimwear ratings are measured in UPF; do not be misled by the wrong rating term:
Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) is a measure of the protection provided by clothing fabrics.
Sun protection factor (SPF) is a measure of the protection provided by sunscreens.
Eye protection factor (EPF) is a measure of the protection provided by sunglasses and other eye wear.
Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is used to indicate the fraction of the UV rays from the sun that can penetrate a fabric. It represents the percentage of UV rays that can reach the skin with and without protection from clothing. For example, a long sleeved shirt that has a UPF of say 50 can only allow 1/50th UV radiation from the sun to the skin.