Your skin is the organ that provides an outer protective covering for your body. Would you be surprised to know that your skin is the largest organ in your entire body?
Your skin is made up of multiple layers of ectodermal tissue. Your skin is what guards and protects your bones and muscles, internal organs and underlying ligaments. Your skin also has a vital role to play in keeping your body safe from pathogens (infectious agents) and excessive water loss.
Skin cancer is cancer that originates in the cells of your skin. A vast majority of the time, skin cancer is the abnormal proliferation and growth of skin cells that take place on parts of your skin that have been exposed to the sun or some other form of ultraviolet light. However, skin cancer may also develop on areas of your skin that are not usually exposed to some type of ultraviolet light.
Malignant melanoma, which is also referred to as cutaneous melanoma, is one of the three main kinds of skin cancer. The other two are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Malignant melanoma is the rarest of these three main types of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma accounts for somewhere around 5% of all of the instances of skin cancer. What this means is that there are more than 50,000 new cases of malignant melanoma that take place every year in the United States.
Even though malignant melanoma is the rarest type of skin cancer, it is the most serious form of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma is responsible for the most deaths that are caused by the three main types of skin cancer.
Malignant melanoma originates in cells that are referred to as melanocytes. These cells are the cells that make a skin pigment that is known as melanin. Melanin is the skin pigment that is responsible for your hair and skin color.
The primary sign or symptom of malignant melanoma is usually a growth, sore, mole or lump that develops on your skin. Another sign or symptom that you should be watching for is bleeding that is brought about by some type of growth on your skin.
There is an ABCDE guide that has been established that can be of great help to you in looking for the signs and symptoms that are caused by malignant melanoma. This is that guide, which says:
A – Watch out for skin growths that have irregular, asymmetrical shapes, such as one that has two halves that do not look the same.
B – Look for skin growths that have irregular, scalloped or notched borders.
C – Watch out for skin growths that have an uneven distribution of color, many colors or changes in color.
D – Look for a skin growth that is greater than ¼ of an inch.
E – Watch out for a skin growth that is changing or evolving over time, such as growing in size or changing its shape or color.