How to treat the most serious type of skin cancer?

Melanoma is a cancer of the skin. It is less common than other types of skin cancer but is the most serious as it is the most likely to grow and spread. Melanoma begins at the melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that produce the pigment melanin which gives color to the skin, hair, and eyes. These melanocytes also form moles which is where Melanoma usually develops. The American Cancer Society estimates that 87,110 new Melanomas will be diagnosed this year, 60% in men and 40% in women. Over the last 30 years, the risk of getting Melanoma has been rising. As people age, they are at a higher risk of developing Melanoma, the average age of the people diagnosed being 63 but it is also one of the most common cancers in young adults (especially young women). The outlook for the people with Melanoma varies with the stage or extent of the cancer, with the 5-year survival rate for stage 1 being more than 95% and the 5-year survival rate for stage IV being less than 20%.

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Melanocytes are the cells that cause Melanoma. Melanin, produced in the melanocytes gives skin its tan or brown color. Melanin also protects the deeper layers of the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. This is why in most people, more exposure to the sun causes your body to produce more melanin which causes the skin to tan or darken. Research suggests that more than 90% of the melanoma cases is linked to exposure to Ultraviolet rays from natural or artificial sources. It is a combination of family history, genetics, and environmental factors that cause Melanoma. Compared to other cancers, Melanoma is easier to detect at an early stage due to the visible marks on your skin and the high survival rates for early stage Melanoma.

According to Market Data Forecast, the Global Melanoma Therapeutics market was valued at USD 2.2 Billion in 2016 and is expected to reach USD 4.63 Billion by 2021. The market comprises both of diagnostics and treatment equipment and drugs. Diagnosis of Melanoma is usually done by Ultrasound, Blood Tests, Dermatoscopy, Lymph node biopsy, X-rays, and CT scans. Some of these methods may seem irrelevant in diagnosing skin cancers but since melanoma is not always a cancer of the skin, they are also used. Melanoma can sometimes also occur on the mucous membrane of the body and under very rare circumstances can even occur in the eye. These Melanomas are harder to detect and hence the need for more complicated tests and equipment.

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The different treatment methods that currently exist for advanced melanoma cases include Biological therapy, Targeted therapy, Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, and Immunotherapy. Surgery is almost always the first step or initial treatment for skin melanoma. Some of the latest developments include use of monoclonal antibodies and targeted therapies. Immune-Onc Therapeutics Inc. has announced Licensing and Collaboration with Albert Einstein College of medicine and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to develop novel cancer immunotherapy treatment for a variety of cancers including Melanoma. This treatment method involves taking advantage of the fact that cancer cells have molecules on their surface called antigens that can be detected by the immune system. Then the immune system is stimulated to produce antibodies and attack the cells with those antigens on their surface, thus specifically targeting and destroying the cancer cells.

Treatment with monoclonal antibodies is also a popular option with companies like Abcam and CST having a wide range of products in their active portfolio and pipeline in the treatment of various types of cancer. The other major market leaders in the Global Melanoma Therapeutics market include Amgen, Merck, Roche, Celgene, Pfizer, and Daiichi Sankyo.

The increase in melanoma cases may simply be because doctors are better at watching people for signs of melanoma, and detecting it at an early stage. But it also may be to do our changing lifestyles like how much time we spend in the sun and the increased potency of UV radiation or time we spend abroad on trips. Melanoma can be a problematic if allowed to grow, so catching it at an early stage and using the wide variety of treatment methods that exist and fast implementation of the ones in development is very important.

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