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Melanoma: Symptoms and Treatments

Skin cancer, is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The deadliest form of skin cancer is known as Melanoma.It is a tumor that arises from the pigmented cells called melanocytes."Melanoma is a cutaneous carcinoma with a high rate of metastasis resulting from uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells and melanocytic mutation which ultimately enters the bloodstream and travels to other organs in the body leading rapidly to death" (Torrens & Swan, 2009, p.115).A vast majority of melanoma cases are caused by excessive exposure to UV light from the sun."As a carcinogen, UV initiates DNA damage leading to immunosuppression which then promotes the development of cancer" (Godsell, 2009, p. 240).Once Melanoma has metastasized, the patient has a very poor prognosis, but if caught in the early stages it is highly curable (Hodgetts, 2011).
"Over one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually and it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime" (Siegel, 2010, p.18).In 2008, over 8,400 Americans died from melanoma (Siegel, 2010).The WHO reported that 48,000 deaths occur worldwide related to melanoma (Wingfield, 2012).In the UK, melanoma rates have rapidly increased over the last thirty years to become the most common cancer.In 2008, the UK reported 11,767 diagnosed cases of melanoma and 2,067 deaths related to melanoma (Godsell, 2012). Nurses play a key role in early identification as they are in an optimal position to screen and help promote awareness concerning melanoma (Torrens & Swan, 2009).Nurses need to detect signs and symptoms of melanoma early in the cancer process in order to maintain a high cure rate. If nurses and primary health care providers, as a whole, increased the amount of skin examination in facilities then the rate of melanomas diagnosed at an early stage would subsequently increase (Torrens & Swan, 2009).
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