Skin Cancer
Melanoma

Talking about skin cancer, there are basically two main forms of this deadly disease - melanoma and basal cell carcinoma. In this article we will talk about melanoma.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which is becoming more and more widespread, especially in countries like the United States, Australia and Israel. Majority of the patients suffering from melanoma are in the age group of 40 and 65 years. In addition, this form of skin cancer is more common in people having a fair complexion. Melanoma affects both men as well as women equally.

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This type of skin cancer may remain dormant for several years, often for as long as 50 years, following sunburn, which is responsible for the disease. Scientists are of the view that coming in contact with sunlight very frequently actually diminishes the ability of the immune system to rummage around for as well as eliminate the melanoma cells. Further exhaustion of the immune system, for instance, any protracted contagion or a widespread burn injury, may also add to the development of this form of skin cancer. In fact, the hormone insulin also encourages a number of melanoma forms. The production of insulin within our body is augmented due to stress as well as when we consume sugar or saccharin. On the other hand, the hormone estrogen also incites a number of other melanoma forms. Then again, hereditary aspects may also be responsible for the development of melanoma in a number of instances.

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In many cases, melanoma may start developing in the form of a new growth. However, on numerous occasions, melanoma emerges in the form of a change to a mole that is already present. It may be noted that the various forms of melanoma are irregular and have uneven margins, various colors and a width that is more compared to a pencil eraser (approximately 6 mm). On the contrary, the basal cell carcinoma is a smaller white patch having a rounded form. In addition, basal cell carcinoma is more widespread, but a lesser harmful form of skin cancer. It is advisable that whenever you notice any apprehensive growth on any part of your body, you should bring it to the notice of your physician.

Precisely speaking, melanoma occurs in four forms - superficial spreading melanoma (SSM), lentigo maligna melanoma, acral lentiginous melanoma and nodular melanoma. Diagnosis of this skin cancer is done through an examination of the affected area after removing the carcinogenic growth. Melanoma is categorized into four stages, conditional on the thickness of the growth and whether the cancerous growth is spreading. It may be noted that melanoma has the aptitude to extend to nearly all parts of the body. However, most commonly this particular type of skin cancer spreads to the lungs, liver, brain and the bones.

Melanoma is treated using various methods, including surgery, immunotherapy as well as chemotherapy. It is worth mentioning here that any patient suffering from melanoma should always include herbal remedies as a part of the general medical treatment for the disease.

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Supplements and herbs

Using specific herbs and supplements may prove to be effective in treating melanoma. One of the herbs that is very useful in curing melanoma is aloe vera, which is applied topically on the affected skin areas. Aloe vera encloses substances called antihistamines, which put an end to the production as well as development of the factors necessary for the sustenance of melanoma. Alternately, people suffering from melanoma may also take astragalus capsules in dosage of 500 mg to 1000 mg thrice every day. Astragalus facilitates in augmenting the efficiency of IL-2 (interleukin-2) and, at the same time, encourages production of the natural killer (NK) cells. However, people suffering from any type of fever or enduring any skin contagion should never use astragalus.

The tincture prepared from the herb cat's claw is also useful in treating melanoma and it ought to be taken according to the instructions on the label of the product diluted in half a cup (125 ml) of water and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Cat's claw tincture promotes the production of natural killer cells, while thwarting estrogen from attaching to the cancer cells. However, here is a word of caution: never use cat's claw if the patient is diabetic and taking insulin. Cat's claw should also be avoided by pregnant women and nursing mothers. Alternately, patients suffering from melanoma may also take kudzu tablets in dosage of 10 mg thrice every day. Kudzu tablets enclose daidzein, which is effective in putting off the development of specific types of melanoma cells.

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While lentinan powder is also useful in treating melanoma, its dose should essentially be specified by your physician or healthcare provider. Using this supplement helps to lessen the pace at which melanoma overruns the skin's surface. People suffering from melanoma may also take polysaccharide kureha (PSK) tablets in dosage of 6,000 mg every day. Using this supplement helps to decreases the pace of melanoma spreading to the lungs. Alternately, the patients may also take reishi tablets in dosage of 3,000 mg every day. These tablets promote the production of IL-2 by the body.

Another herb that is effective in treating melanoma is the Siberian ginseng unadulterated eleuthero extract, which should be taken as per the instructions on the label of the product diluted in one-fourth cup of water. This herb is effective in treating the types of cancer that generally react in response to immunotherapy. Tablets containing soy isoflavone concentrate are also useful in curing melanoma. These tablets should be taken in dosage of 3,000 mg every day. Like the kudzu tablets, soy isoflavone tablets also enclose daidzein, a substance that thwarts the development of specific types of melanoma. However, if the patient suffers from a stomach disorder owing to taking soy isoflavone concentrate tablets, they should immediately stop using this supplement and, instead, start taking kudzu tablets.

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HERBS THAT SHOULD BE AVOIDED: People suffering from melanoma ought to keep away from a number of herbs that may prove to be detrimental for their condition. The herbs they need to avoid include dan shen, cordyceps, licorice, peony (an herb that incites estrogen), fennel, and garlic (an herb that encourages insulin production).

Additional things you may do

In addition to conventional treatments, including surgery, immunotherapy and chemotherapy, as well as using herbs and supplements, people having melanoma may also do a few other things to cure their condition.

For instance, melanoma patients should take extra care to steer clear from sunburn, but not sunlight always. In fact, they ought to have regular exposure to sunlight to enable their skin to produce vitamin D, which is essential to turn on the melanoma cell genes that suggest these cells to go back to their regular growth and reproduction cycle. Moreover, there is no risk for the disease to develop further or expand when the patients are exposed to restrained sunlight. In addition, the fact is that melanoma occurs on such areas of the skin that normally never come in contact with sunlight.

In effect, if anyone deliberately avoids sunlight often with a view to prevent melanoma from developing and does not receive sufficient sunlight, they may actually be liable for the current rise in the death rate owing to this skin cancer. Therefore, in order to make sure that one's body produces enough vitamin D, they ought to keep some time to be in the sun without using sunscreen. For instance, being in the sun for a minimum period of 20 minutes either during the early hours of the day or during the earlier part of the evening is enough for sufficient production of vitamin D by the body.

People having melanoma should eat more green leafy vegetables as well as orange and yellow fruits. Consuming these foods offer a regular supply of vitamin A, which balances well with vitamin D. Conversely, consumption of excessive amounts of vitamin A, for instance frequent measures of cod liver oil, actually augments the chances of developing melanoma tumours. At the same time, melanoma patients should keep away from fatty substances, particularly eggs and beef. These foods enclose arachidonic acid that stimulates belligerent growth of melanoma tumours as well as facilitate their increase all over the body. Then again, consuming omega-3 fatty acids present in sunflower oil (used for cooking purposes) and perilla oil (present in capsules) is likely to reduce the aggressiveness of the melanoma tumours as well as lessen the possibilities of their spreading to different parts of the body.

Researches undertaken in laboratories have demonstrated that the trace mineral selenium helps to restrict melanoma from spreading. Hence, it is advisable that patients suffering from this form of skin cancer should take 150 micrograms of selenium every day, if possible in selenomethionine form. In addition, they may also take 30 mg to 780 mg of glycine every day, as studies conducted in laboratories have shown that consumption of dietary glycine slows down the development of melanoma tumours in mice. However, people suffering from any type of kidney or liver ailment ought not take elevated amounts of amino acids without the advice of their physician or healthcare provider.

People with melanoma should also keep away from soft drinks, as these beverages contain a substance called phenylalanine. In effect, examinations undertaken in laboratories have shown that phenylalanine enhances the capability of the melanoma tumour cells to expand or multiply to several different parts of the patient's body.

Like phenylalanine, taking tyrosine supplements is also prohibited for melanoma patients. Akin to phenylalanine, use of tyrosine also enhances melanoma cells' aptitude to spread to different parts of the body. Therefore, it is advisable that people should check their skin on a regular basis. According to the counselling of the Skin Care Foundation, people with melanoma should necessarily undertake personally examine their entire body at least once in every three months. In order to perform this self-examination, the patients require a hand-held mirror, a full-length mirror and adequate lighting. They need to use the mirrors to detect any alterations in any of the moles or marks on their body. It is advisable that they need to ensure that they closely observe if there is any skin laceration or mole and, in case they find any, they should visit their physician for regular check-ups.

It may be noted that surgery is considered to be the main common treatment for melanoma, particularly in the instance of occurrence of small tumours in the early stage of the disease. While chemotherapy is also used to treat melanoma, it is not very effective as far as this form of skin cancer is concerned. However, chemotherapy has proved to be very useful in treating many other forms of cancer. In addition, immunotherapy is also used to cure melanoma. Immunotherapy involves providing the body, especially the affected areas, with concentrated amounts of chemicals of its individual immune system. While treating melanoma by means of immunotherapy, IL-2 (interleukin-2) and lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells are administered. Occasionally, the treatment schedule for melanoma also includes the hormone called melatonin.

It is worth mentioning here that after a surgery of cancerous tumours the patients may develop lymphedema - a sort of tissue distension. Although majority of the people recuperate from skin cancer following detection as well as treatment of the disease in its early stage, even they need to undergo check-ups on a regular basis for a minimum period of five years after recovery.

Before concluding, it needs to be mentioned that there are some medicines that have the potential to make the skin of an individual all the more vulnerable to damage following exposure to sunlight. Some of these medications include diuretics, antibiotics, sedatives, anti-depressants, estrogen, antihistamines as well as medicines for treating acne, for instance isotretinoin (Accutane) and tretinoin (Retin-A). Therefore, it is advisable that both people with melanoma or normal people should consult their physician, healthcare provider or pharmacist whether any medicine that they may be using would have such an after-effect.

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