Malignant Melanoma Case Study

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Cancer is a disease whereby cells undergo changes that cause them to grow uncontrollably1. These changes are caused by gene mutations2.

Genes are sections of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), contained within every cell2. Genes control which proteins are synthesised and which cells should be destroyed2. Each type of cancer is classified according to the site where the cancer initiated, i.e. the location of initial gene mutation3.

Malignant melanoma is a skin cancer whereby the cancer initiates in cells named melanocytes3. Ultra-violet radiation (UVR) is thought to be the main cause of melanoma4, especially when in combination with endogenous susceptibilities such as genetic predispositions5.

Skin structures

The skin is
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Grape seed proanthocyanidins (GSPs) are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that reduce melanin synthesis and lessen skin damage caused by UVR33. Administration of grape seed extract to mice demonstrated that GSPs can inhibit UVR-induced tumour growth, size and incidence33.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids could also protect skin against UV damage as they increase the latency period of tumour development and prevent multiple tumour formations33.

Secondary prevention

Early detection of symptoms reduces patient delay and limits mutilation and death5.

Screening programmes for the entire population would not be useful due to relatively low incidence and early detection of melanoma5, but may be beneficial for those with increased vulnerability5.


Since the mid-1970s, UK rates of melanoma incidence have increased more rapidly than any of the other ten most prevalent cancers31. Scientific and non-scientific factors are being researched to conclude risks and reasons for increase.

UVR is deemed as the main risk currently5 because UVA and UVB can induce carcinogenesis in skin structures22. Additionally, it was reported in 2010 that 86% of malignant melanomas within the UK had links to natural and artificial UVR

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