Brain metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to the brain from another part of the body, and sadly it is one of the most frequent causes of cancer-related deaths. One of the most common types of cancer that can metastasise to the brain is melanoma, which is a form of skin cancer. Here is some more information about risk factors, symptoms, and treatments.
What is the main cause of melanoma?
The main cause of melanoma is skin exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. This can be from the sun, or from an artificial light source such as a sun bed. People with pale skin, lots of moles, or a history of melanoma in the family are most at risk. However, anyone can be affected, so it is important to take steps to protect yourself from UV light.
How can you minimise the risk of skin cancer?
In many cases, skin cancer is preventable by avoiding the use of sunbeds and taking extra care outdoors, particularly between March and October when the sun is at its strongest. Whenever possible, stay in the shade between the hours of 11am and 3pm during these months.
When you are outdoors, apply a high factor sunscreen (at least 30 SPF) to all areas of exposed skin. Cover up with a wide brimmed hat, UV protection sunglasses, and close weave cotton clothing for extra protection. Remember that UV is still present even on a cloudy day, so you should still take precautions when outside whatever the weather.
Children’s skin is particularly delicate and sensitive to the sun, so take extra care to keep them protected. If you are by the sea or a pool, remember to reapply sunscreen after they have been in the water. More information on sun safety can be found on the NHS website.
What are the symptoms of skin cancer?
Check your skin regularly for any changes or warning signs, particularly in areas that are often exposed to the sun. Common symptoms of skin cancer include a sore that doesn’t heal within four weeks. It may look red and rough with raised edges, or white or pink with a shiny surface. It may feel sore to touch, and itch or bleed
Moles that have changed in appearance, or you have noticed for the first time may be a sign of melanoma. Normal moles are round or oval shaped with smooth edges. If you notice a mole that has mixed colours, blurred edges, is growing or swollen and itchy or crusty, then it’s advisable to contact your doctor who may refer you to a specialist.
How is skin cancer treated?
Skin cancer is usually treatable, especially if it has been caught in the early stages. The main form of treatment is surgery to remove the melanoma and any other cancerous cells that have spread in the body. Sometimes an area of healthy skin around the melanoma is removed to minimise the risk of the melanoma returning.
Radiotherapy may also be used, especially if a large area is affected or the cancer is in an area that is difficult to operate on.
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