Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer. It develops in
your melanocytes, or skin cells. These skin cells produce melanin, which gives
your skin its color.
According to the Melanoma
Foundation, more than 70 percent of melanomas develop in or near an
existing mole or dark spot on your skin. It’s important to note changes in the size
or appearance of moles and birthmarks. These changes could mean melanoma is
developing. In men, melanoma usually develops on the trunk, head, or neck. In women,
it normally develops on the arms and legs.
Exact causes of melanoma are not fully understood. However,
exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or from tanning beds increases
your risk for developing it. If detected early, melanoma can be surgically
removed. If it has spread too much for surgical removal, other standard
- targeted therapy
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies aim
to alleviate stress and pain, rather than cure the disease. Some patients may
look toward alternatives for a cure. However, no studies have proven that
alternative therapies can cure melanoma or any type of cancer. Alternative
therapies that promise full cancer recovery should be regarded with suspicion.
Instead, you should talk to your doctor about CAM therapies
you can combine with traditional therapy. Before you begin a CAM therapy, it’s
always wise to examine the pros and cons, since certain treatments may have side
effects when combined with standard treatment. The following is a list of the
more common CAM therapies.
Eating healthier and getting exercise is important for
treating any kind of cancer. Nutrition therapy provides you with vital
nutrients to help you maintain a healthy body weight and fight infection. It
aims to control side effects due to medications or disease, while maintaining your
strength. Having a healthy diet will help your body fight cancer better. Exercise
will keep your body strong and reduce fatigue you may experience from standard
have shown that eating foods with antioxidants
or taking antioxidant supplements can help prevent cancer. Antioxidants help
fight cancer by neutralizing free radicals. These are highly reactive chemicals
that can harm cells.
Studies have also examined the role of fats and proteins to
prevent cancer, as well as plant-based spices, such as curcumin. In addition,
some naturally-occurring compounds in plant-based foods may help prevent
cancer. These compounds, called flavonoids, are found in apples, broccoli,
tomatoes, and grapes, among others.
Naturopathic medicine incorporates natural therapies from
various healing traditions. These range from herbal supplements to forms of
body manipulation, such as massage and acupuncture.
Plant-based medicines can be taken in the form of teas or
capsules. Green tea has long
been hailed for its health benefits, from cancer to arthritis. Packed with
powerful antioxidants, green tea may prevent skin tumors from forming.
Acupuncture and Acupressure
Acupuncture and acupressure are directed at lessening pain from
cancer, rather than as treatment by themselves. Both techniques aim to release energy
that is blocked in your body. Acupuncture does this by inserting needles at key
points throughout your body. Acupressure involves applying pressure to specific
points on your body.
Massage and Physical Therapy
Massage and physical therapy can help you manage chronic
pain from melanoma. If melanoma has spread to your lymph nodes, strength
training and stretching from physical therapy can be beneficial.
Hydrotherapy involves the use of warm or cool water in the
form of a steam bath or ice packs to help alleviate pain. Warm water can relax your
muscles, while ice and ice water can reduce inflammation by constricting your blood
vessels. Hydrotherapy can also help decrease
soreness and increase relaxation.
Exercise is highly recommended for melanoma patients to
maintain a healthy body weight and to keep energy levels high. Walking or other
low-impact activities such as yoga can improve cardiovascular health. For best
results, you should perform these activities for about half an hour, three to
four days a week. Additionally, yoga’s poses and emphasis on breathing can help
While there are various forms of meditation, many of them
share common characteristics. These include limiting distractions, maintaining
an open, non-judgmental attitude, and finding a comfortable posture to
establish focus. Meditation is used to examine the relationship between the emotional,
mental, and behavioral factors of your health. It also helps to relieve stress
There are many simple things you can do to help prevent
- Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- Wear sunscreen all the time.
- Wear protective clothing that covers your arms,
legs, and face when you go outside.
You should also become familiar with your skin so that you notice
any changes on it. This includes new moles or freckles, or changes in current
moles, freckles, or birthmarks. Consult your doctor immediately if you notice:
- any increase in size, especially above 7 millimeters
- change in color
- irregularity of the border of the mole
CAM therapies can’t treat melanoma. However, they can help
combat some of the symptoms associated with the disease and its treatments,
such as chemotherapy and radiation. If melanoma is treated early on and properly,
the five-year survival rate is generally very high. Survival
- 92-97 percent for stage 1
- 53-81 percent for stage 2
- 40-78 percent for stage 3
- 15-20 percent for stage 4
Make sure to talk to your doctor about your treatment plan
and how to incorporate CAM therapies into your regimen. Treating the disease
and maintaining your overall well-being are very important to your total