What is Mucosal Melanoma: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Pictures

Mucuses are the slimy substances secreted from specialized glands and membranes. It is the animal version of the mucilage substance found in trees and flowers. It’s a viscous colloid, meaning that the gel like liquid is made up of insoluble particles dispersed and suspended within another substance. It’s comprised of inorganic salts (ions are electrolytes), antiseptic enzymes (like lysozymes), immunoglobulins (specific antibody), glycoproteins (like lactoferrin), mucins (glycoconjugates produced by goblet cells).

What is the purpose of mucus?

Mucus serves as both a protector from foreign agents and lubrication. They prevent damage to the epithelium tissues which line the tubes of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, visual, auditory, and urogenital systems. It’s not just mammals either, its secreted from the skins of amphibians like frogs and newts as well as fish. Snails, leeches, and other invertebrates also make an external mucus.

You have seen it before in humans. You may know is better as snot, boogies, or phlegm when you have the flu or need to blow your nose. It’s also the thing that gives vaginas a natural lubricant. This is a vital part of many animals.

What is mucosal melanoma?

Mucosal melanoma is not something you hear every day. There is good reason as it’s a rarity, even among melanoma itself. It makes up about a single percent of all melanoma diagnoses. About half of all cases begin in the head or neck (like the nasal passageways). A quarter starts in the rectal region and 20 in the female genital tract. The final 5% are found in all other regions that have the membrane but are not mentioned above such as the gallbladder, bowel, or urethra. What separates it from the traditional melanoma of the skin we are accustomed to hearing about is that there’s no link between UV exposure and diagnosis. In fact, these nether regions hardly see the light of day and have even been directly referred to as the area where the sun don’t shine.

Mucosal melanoma symptoms

This disease can damage a lot of differing regions. Depending on the afflicted region, the disruption will cause a manifestation of different exhibition of symptoms.

Areas near heads and necks can result in nose bleeds, painless lumps, discoloration in the mouth, ulcers, nasal obstruction and olfactory damage (loss of smell). When inside the nasal cavity, pictures may need to be taken by a doctor using imagine techniques when a mirror alone isn’t enough.

When the vagina is affected (vulvovaginal melanoma), the vulva may be discolored, ulceration occurs, bleeding, abnormal discharge, a mass, and painful intercourse. It may be difficult to decipher between a benign and malignant mass. A gynecologist can use an ultrasound to take pictures without cutting you open. Those near the rectum may notice masses, pain, or chain in bowel movement habits (diarrhea, constipation, or bloody stools). The region of origin varies greatly in the aggression of symptoms.

Potential risk factors

Nobody knows what the exact cause of cancer is. Studies have been conducted to examine possible lifestyles which make one more prone to developing later in life. In general, research has found that mutations or overexpression of the KIT gene. While it’s not fully understood, research finding the connections has been established. Other traits appear to have a relation to specific locations.

For those affecting orally, if you smoke or inhale carcinogens, this has been shown to enhance vulnerabilities. Keep in mind that secondhand smoking can also put you at risk. This is why you should not hang around when someone is smoking indoors or in unventilated rooms. Inhalation of a carcinogen at least once in your life. Some careers have a greater risk of this including those who work with industrial cleaners, plastic production, or miners.

Vulvar melanoma is linked to preexisting conditions and diseases. Having chronic inflammatory disease or a history of viral infections can put you at greater risk. Certain chemical irritants you may use for grooming can also cause harm (it’s a sensitive area and you should discuss homeopathic or non FDA approved products with a licensed gynecologist). Contraction of human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV and AIDs, make anorectal regions more susceptible.

Treatment of mucosal melanoma?

Surgeries are always the first treatment for mucosal melanoma. Chemotherapy and radiation have many adverse effects that may be too much for a frail individual to handle.

A combination is also common, but a medical team of trained specialists will direct you

How dangerous is it?

The prognosis for the disease will vary as a function of individual cases, severity, and stage of which it was identified. Unfortunately, there is a rather low survival rate overall. Head and neck have a 12 to 30 % chance of surviving after five years. Vulval and vaginal are 24 to 7 and 5 to 25% respectively. Anorectal has a 20% chance you’ll live.

Where are we today?

Cancer is a prime topic and researching a cure in humans is a priority. While there are no definite cures or painless treatments, there are therapies under clinical trials looking for successful remission. They are looking at what is and isn’t effective as well as how to develop completely new treatments. Some systematic therapies include immunotherapy.



Article References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/the-truth-about-mucus
  2. https://www.melanoma.org/understand-melanoma/what-is-melanoma/mucosal-melanoma
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5823579/
  4. https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/mucosal-melanoma/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6240847/