Melanoma

Read below to find out more information about melanoma, including symptoms and treatments.

Melanoma

Info

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer because it has a tendency to spread quickly to other parts of the body (metastasize). Most melanomas appear as dark growths similar to moles, but some may be pink, red or skin-colored. Melanoma is very treatable when detected early, but can be fatal if allowed to spread throughout the body. The goal is to detect melanoma early, when it is still on the surface of the skin.

Signs & Symptoms

Sometimes the first sign of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of an existing mole. Most melanomas have a black or blue-black area. Melanoma also may appear as a new mole. It may be black, abnormal, or “ugly looking". More advanced melanoma may have a hard or lumpy texture. More advanced tumors may itch, ooze, or bleed, but are usually not painful.

Prevention

Excessive sun exposure, especially severe blistering sunburns during childhood or use of tanning beds can cause melanoma. Early detection and treatment are critical to a successful recovery. We recommend that you get an annual full body skin check with your dermatologist. Monthly self exams are important for anyone at risk for developing skin cancer. Watch for these changes in moles and report them to your doctor:

  • Asymmetry with one half of a mole a different shape than the other half
  • Border edge is ragged, notched or blurred
  • Color is uneven with a variety of hues in the same mole, with areas of black, brown, tan, white, grey, red, pink or blue
  • Diameter increases to a size larger than the eraser of a pencil (1/4-inch)

Treatment

The best treatment is early detection! Your doctor will recommend a treatment based on your medical history and the depth and location of the melanoma.  Depending on the size of the tumor, a referral to a surgeon who specializes in cancer surgery may be recommended.  Examination by a dermatologist can help to determine whether or not a lesion is suspicious for melanoma.

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