Melanoma is one of the most survivable forms of cancer, with a ten-year survival rate of 75 percent. It’s also the most common of the three types of skin cancer, itself the most common form of cancer in the United States. An estimated 2 million people are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer each year, one in every 150 Americans. The three kinds of skin caner are squamous-cell, basal cell, and melanoma. Squamous-cell carcinoma is found the layer of cells immediately under the epidermis. The next layer is the basal cell layer, where basal cell carcinoma is found. Melanoma occurs in the innermost skin layer.
The most obvious symptoms of skin caner are associated with the mnemonic ABCDE:
- A mole or other mark that is asymmetrical, with a different shape on each side
- An uneven or ragged border
- The mark has multiple colors
- The mark is more than a quarter-inch in diameter, about the size of a pencil eraser
- The mark is evolving, changing its size or shape from week to week.
The standard treatment for skin cancer is surgery to remove the growth, though this isn’t always possible for melanoma. Researchers recently found a treatment approach that may be effective for melanoma. Cancers such as melanoma are dependent on copper to grow and spread because of a genetic mutation. In a study using laboratory animals, administering a drug that blocks the absorption of copper caused tumors to shrink.