Amelanotic Cancer is a form of melanoma that lacks color or pigment. Often described as flesh-toned or pinkish in color, amelanotic cancer is very hard to detect because it tends to blend in easily with the skin. As a colorless form of cancer, it can go unnoticed for a very long time. Some people report some itching or red patches, but because it doesn’t affect the melanin in skin, it is easily disguised as a common skin irritation.
Medical experts agree that amelanotic cancer is very serious both because of the amplified risk of late detection and its tendency to spread quickly throughout the body. As of this writing, there aren’t any known cures for amelanotic cancer. However, there are surgical options and treatments that are very effective especially with early diagnosis.
Known Risk Factors for Developing Amelanotic Cancer
- Medical professionals warn against spending hefty amounts of time in the sun. This applies to preventing all forms of skin cancers, not just amelanotic cancer. There are many ways to increase your risk other than sunbathing at your favourite beach. The ultraviolet lamps used in tanning beds can easily increase your risk factor.
- Be vigilant about checking changes in moles. Experts also suggest that if you are prone to have more moles than the average, that you could also be a higher risk for amelanotic cancer. Changes in moles can be identified as color changes, size changes, or even irritation such as itching or bleeding.
- People who have compromised immune systems are also vulnerable to developing melanoma. Weakened immunity could be the result of pre-existing conditions such as blood disorders, or previous history of cancer. Also, those who have had a recent surgical procedure or illness increases risk.
- Individuals with fair skin are also at a greater risk. If you are the type to burn easily or freckle with exposed to the sun, dermatologists recommend covering up with hats, sunscreen clothing, and also a good reputable sunscreen.
- Other known risk factors for developing amelanotic cancer and other forms of melanoma are HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), chemical exposure, and adverse lifestyle choices such as smoking.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Amelanotic Cancer
As mentioned, amelanotic cancer is often hidden in plain sight. Lesions can appear anywhere, but because they are neutral in color, they are often dismissed or un-noticed. Not known for causing pain until its advanced stages, amelanotic cancer gives little clues as to its presence.
As a method designed to assist in the detection of amelanotic cancer, medical professionals designed an acronym referred to as the ABCDE method of detecting warning signs:
- A = Asymmetry is when one half doesn’t match the other half of the lesion or mole.
- B = Border Irregularity is when the edges of the lesion are not smooth and maybe rugged in appearance.
- C = Color is defined as a change in the pigment. It could be blue or blackish with maybe spots of red or pink.
- D = Diameter is a concern for moles or lesions over ¼ inch.
- E = Evolution is defined as any changes to the mole from the original. This change could be represented by a change in pain to the area, or perhaps the size. Any noticeable to the appearance of the mole or lesion should be immediately reported to your doctor.
Common Treatments of Amelanotic Cancer
Surgery is one of the more preferred options by oncologists. This provides an opportunity for the entire cancer tumor to be removed thus giving the patient the best odds for recovery.
Chemotherapy is very a common treatment and sometimes used in conjunction with other treatment modalities. Chemotherapy consists of a particular drug therapy to kill or slow the growth of cancerous cells in the body.
Radiation Therapy is an effective option by which X-ray radiation is aimed directly at the cancerous tumor. It works by killing or shrinking the cancerous tumor.
Immune therapy is a relatively new treatment. Drugs are given to boost the immune function of the individual affected thus providing the body with improved immunity to help kill off cancer cells.
Prognosis of Amelanotic Cancer
Being diagnosed early with amelanotic cancer significantly helps in efforts to treat it. Because it is very fast to spread, any delay in detection could make treatment options difficult. Known for being one of the more deadliest of cancers, regular self-examination is key to prevention, especially if there is a predisposition with the above-mentioned risk factors.