Dr Maria Rosaria Fiore - Radiotherapist
How can we protect skin and prevent this disease?
It is known that excessive sun exposure is a risk factor for the emergence of skin cancer. Avoid sun exposure especially during the hottest hours of the day. This goes especially to children and light-skin people. Always use barrier creams and avoid using UV lamps. This also goes for dark complexion people.
Melanoma can also arise on moles already existing or that arose in some moment in life and that can suffer a "transformation".
The growth of a mole in few weeks, a variation in the borders and/or its shape, a reddish halo around the mole, variations of colour, a mild bleeding, are signs to consult a dermatologist immediately.
Mole mapping represents a valid method of prevention, especially for those who have many and cannot memorise them or control them because they are in places where it is difficult to see. The moles mapping is a method that thanks to a computer it allows to memorise all the moles present and their characteristics. This can help verify the modifications in a successive control. Based on the evaluations made by the doctor, he will tell you when it is necessary to repeat this procedure and how many times it must be done.
Following these simple prevention measures is very important because skin cancer, though aggressive, is a type of cancer that with an early detection can be cured.
There is a special type of melanoma that does not affect skin but the eyes. What are its characteristics?
Melanoma develops from the pigment-containing cells known as melanocytes that are present both in the skin and in the eyes. The transformation of melanocytes into malignant cells in the eye gives origin to ocular melanoma. Ocular melanoma frequently arises in the deep and rear part of the eye, in that case it appears as a dark spot that the ophthalmologist can clearly seen with an ocular fundus exam. Unfortunately, the appearance of melanoma in the rear part of the eye is not visible to the naked eye but it is manifested with symptoms such as blurred vision, loss of a part of the field of vision, change of the size or shape of the pupil, variations of the position of the eye and its way of moving. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, visit your ophthalmologist. Sometimes it can appear in the iris. In this case a "spot" is formed visible to the naked eye. It is always recommended to visit the doctor if you identify the appearance of pigmented areas in the eye.
Can this be treated with hadrontherapy?
Hadrontherapy with protons (proton therapy) for the treatment of ocular melanoma represents a valid alternative to the aggressive surgical treatments, that includes the enucleation of the eye. The proton therapy has gained wide acceptance in the scientific community since it has been shown that the results of the disease-free survival and of the overall survival obtained with the use of protons, are better than the ones obtained with the enucleation. The local control with conservation of the organ is the most important objective of the treatment with protons. It offers much better cosmetics results and it allows the conservation of the eye in many cases. The long term results are successful and most of the patients have achieved the control of the disease with this treatment modality.