What does melanoma do to the body?
This section will discuss the effect of melanoma skin cancer on the functioning of the human body and it's organ systems.
Melanoma and the Integumentary System
Melanoma initially forms on the skin, which is a part of the integumentary system. This system is responsible for protecting the body's internal organs and tissues from the external environment in order for the body to continue to work properly (maintain homeostasis). When melanoma forms it effects pigmentation of the skin and protection against UV Radiation. However, the effects of melanoma that has remained localized to an area on the skin are minimal.
Occular Melanoma and the Nervous System
If melanoma develops in the eye it does so most often in the uvea. This tumour may cause vision to become blurred or the patient may see shadows and flashing lights. Overall melanoma disrupts the function of the eye, which is a part of the nervous system.
Metastatic Melanoma and the Organ Systems
The most dangerous and fatal effects of melanoma skin cancer occur when the cancer becomes metastatic and spreads to other organs and organ systems.
Lymph Nodes: Cancer in the lymph nodes negatively impacts your body's ability to fight disease (lymphatic system)
Liver: Cancer in the liver will affect your body's ability to digest food, as the liver stores iron and helps break down fats. The body's digestive system will be negatively impacted.
Lungs: Cancerous tumours in the lungs will deter their ability to pump oxygen into the body, and pump carbon dioxide out. Without the lungs function properly, our respiratory system will not work right and the ability to breathe will be severely diminished.
Brain: Cancer in the brain will effect the way our body sends and receives signals. This could result in wrong signals being sent out to different body parts, or the transportation of signals being lost. This will effect the nervous system as the brain is effectively the control centre for this organ system.
The above organs are the most commonly affected by metastatic melanoma. As outlined, cancer in these vital organs is the most dangerous because it can cause our whole body to stop functioning properly. This is why Stage III and IV Melanoma is so hard to cure - the real effects of melanoma take their toll on your body once it starts to spread.