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Melanoma: Prevention, Detection, and Treatment

Catherine M. Poole
with DuPont Guerry
Drawings by David Low
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Melanoma, a dangerous and potentially lethal form of skin cancer, is on the rise. Yet melanoma is readily detectable and curable in its early stages, and it is a disease that often can be prevented by avoiding excessive sun exposure.This book is a complete guide to melanoma for anyone newly diagnosed with this frightening disease and for others who are concerned about detecting and preventing it. Featuring color photographs that show normal and malignant spots on the skin, and the latest medical information on getting proper treatment and lowering the risk of developing the disease, the book is filled with facts that can save lives. Health writer Catherine M. Poole, also a melanoma survivor, teams up with world-renowned melanoma expert Dr. DuPont Guerry IV to provide practical advice for patients, their families, and their health care providers.Readers will find in this book the answers to such important questions as:• What do early and late melanoma look like?• When is a mole a problem?• Is sunscreen the best way to prevent melanoma?• Who is most likely to get melanoma?• What does the pathology report on a biopsy mean?• Are there different treatments? Which is most effective?• Is there hope when melanoma has spread within the body?• Where can accurate melanoma information be found on the Internet?

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13060-7
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Public Health

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. ix-xii)
    DuPont Guerry IV
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. 1 Close Encounters with Melanoma
    (pp. 1-12)

    Cancer is feared more than death in our society. Melanoma seems especially ominous: ‘‘a malign, ingrown melanoma, spreading softly its dark tide.’’¹ In reality, melanoma is menacing because no sure or easy treatment for it exists once it has spread beyond the initial site. In this book I consider not only the diagnosis and treatment of the disease but also the steps you can take to protect yourself from getting melanoma in the first place—or to discover it before it becomes dangerous. To put the potential outcomes in perspective, it might be helpful to look at the impact of...

  6. 2 What Is Melanoma?
    (pp. 13-21)

    Melanoma was known at the time of Hippocrates, who referred to it as a black tumor (melas, black/oma, tumor). It was first reported in Western medical literature by John Hunter, an English physician, in 1787. Hunter documented and preserved a melanoma tumor taken from a thirty-five-year-old man’s lower jaw. The melanoma reappeared three years later, a recurrence thought to have been triggered during a drunken brawl when the man’s chin was struck with a stick. (Doctors now believe that hitting or rubbing a melanoma has essentially no effect on how it behaves.) Dr. Hunter described the lump as ‘‘soft and...

  7. 3 Who Gets Melanoma and Why?
    (pp. 22-39)

    More than a century ago, William Norris, an English doctor, described certain similarities among the melanoma patients he treated. He noted that most of his patients had light-colored hair and fair complexions, and their melanomas seemed to grow out of moles.

    The doctor also noticed that the patients’ family members sometimes also had melanoma. Today doctors look at the same factors to gauge who stands an increased risk of getting melanoma.¹ Epidemiologists have pinpointed certain characteristics that, whether they occur separately or together, predict who is likely to get melanoma. These include:

    a sun-sensitive skin type that may freckle easily...

  8. 4 Early Detection of Melanoma
    (pp. 40-53)

    The lifetime risk of getting melanoma was one in 250 in 1980; in the year 2004 the risk of developinginvasivemelanoma was estimated to be one in 65.¹ Melanoma has a deadly reputation, and in the 1930s, when the mortality rate stood at 75 percent, it was just that—deadly. The current death rate from melanoma has dropped to under 15 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. The statistic is proof that identification of early melanoma allows remarkably effective therapy.

    Fortunately, melanoma is visible to the naked eye. It is usually pigmented and begins in the top layer...

  9. 5 If You Have Melanoma
    (pp. 54-81)

    According to data from SEER, the federal government’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program that tracks cancer in the U.S. population, the age-adjusted incidence of melanoma increased more than 100 percent between 1973 and 1995. Of Americans born in 2004, one in sixty-five will develop invasive melanoma over his or her lifetime, a 2000-percent increase from 1930, according to the 2004 AAD melanoma fact sheet.¹ Surveillance research by the American Cancer Society ranks melanoma fifth in estimated new cases for men and seventh for women. So if you don’t have melanoma yourself, you probably know someone who does. The rise...

  10. 6 When Melanoma Metastasizes
    (pp. 82-102)

    Vadim Zatsyrko was wrong: many are cured of melanoma, usually by surgical removal of lesions at an early stage. But melanomas in the vertical growth phase, particularly thick ones, can cast spin-offs through the lymph vessels and bloodstream to other parts of the body. Although doctors can predict which melanomas are likely to spread and can make educated guesses about the timing and pattern of spread, the disease can show up in a variety of places in the body according to its own timetable. What should be done if melanoma spreads? The answer depends on the patient, the tumor, and...

  11. 7 Tending to Your Spirits
    (pp. 103-120)

    Carolyn Marks was one of the bravest women I’ve known. In her twenties, she had breast cancer and a mastectomy. At fifty, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. For five years she endured a number of grueling treatments. Yet as she faced each new therapy and the possibility of failure (not to mention the awful side effects), she managed to find something positive to celebrate each day. Ultimately she lost her battle, but her legacy lives on in an annual walkathon that she insisted I start before her death. The walk raises substantial money to pay for continuing medical education...

  12. 8 Future Promise: Prevention of Melanoma
    (pp. 121-140)

    The cost to Medicare of treatment for melanoma has been estimated at $495 million annually, with projected costs to exceed $5 billion by the year 2010. The immediate cost of sunburn was measured by the Department of Dermatology at the University of Texas as associated with missed work and lower productivity due to overexposure to the sun or sunburn. In studying beachgoers in the Galveston area, the study found the total economic impact of sunburn to be approximately $10 million, based on lost workdays.¹ According to Darrel Rigel, of the Department of Dermatology at New York University Medical School: ‘‘Clearly...

  13. Appendix A: Cancer Centers and Melanoma Specialists
    (pp. 141-155)
  14. Appendix B: Support Services and Resource Websites
    (pp. 156-163)
  15. Appendix C: AJCC Staging Guidelines
    (pp. 164-169)
  16. Glossary
    (pp. 170-174)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 175-178)
  18. Index
    (pp. 179-187)