Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops from the pigment-making cells of the skin called melanocytes. This type of skin cancer is much less common than basal and squamous cell cancers, but can be more dangerous. Melanoma is highly treatable when caught early. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. This can lead to difficult treatments and in some cases, death. As with all skin cancers, early detection is key. People of all skin colors should perform self-exams and always discuss any change in their skin with a dermatologist.
It is important to know the warning signs of melanoma:
- Change in size or color to an existing mole
- New dark spot or patch on your skin
- A spot that looks like a changing freckle or age spot
- Dark streak under a fingernail or toenail
- Band of darker skin around a fingernail or toenail
- Slowly growing patch of thick skin that looks like a scar
- An existing mole begins oozing or bleeding
Click HERE to learn the ABCDEs of melanoma
Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours when outside.
To diagnose melanoma, your physician will carefully examine moles and other suspicious spots. A biopsy may be performed for further evaluation by a pathologist. After you have been diagnosed with melanoma, it is important that you maintain a close relationship with your dermatologist. It is extremely important that you understand the warning signs and perform regular self skin-exams. You will want to discuss your condition with your family members since they may be at increased risk. Living with melanoma will require some lifestyle modifications to limit your sun exposure and to reduce your risk as much as possible.
NCCN guidelines determine the treatment needed for your melanoma. In many cases, melanomas can be excised and repaired in our office with no further treatment. In some cases, lymph nodes need to be checked or removed, further imaging may be needed, and/or chemotherapy may be needed. Your physician will determine your treatment based on the specific details of your melanoma.