Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer that can affect anyone. If left untreated, it can be life-threatening by spreading (metastasizing) to other parts of the body. The best predictor for a good outcome when treating melanoma is an early diagnosis. If you are concerned that a spot on your body could be a melanoma, please don’t wait. Call today or request an appointment online with the skin cancer experts at Golden Coast Dermatology, Skin Cancer, and Vein Center.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is an aggressive cancer from the pigment producing cells in the skin. It can arise anywhere on the skin, including areas that are not exposed to the sun, such as the soles of one’s feet. It can affect anyone, including those with darker skin types.
Men are more likely to develop the cancer on the head, neck, or trunk. Females tend to develop it on the arms and legs. Unfortunately, the number of new cases of melanoma increases every year. In the past decade, the number of new invasive cases diagnosed annually increased by 54%.
More than two people die of skin cancer in the United States every hour. Sadly, over 7,000 people will die of melanoma this year alone. Furthermore, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. These statistics are even higher for those living in sunny climates, such as Orange County.
What causes Melanoma?
What does it look like?
It usually occurs on sun exposed areas of the skin, such as the face and arms. However, it can be anywhere on the body, including the bottom of one’s feet and genitals.
The most important of these is enlarging. If anything on the body is enlarging, bleeding, changing or looks different than the rest of your body, it probably needs a biopsy. Once a biopsy is performed, the mole is sent to a laboratory and carefully studied to determine if it is a melanoma or not.
How is it treated?
The most important factor by far when treating it is early diagnosis. When caught early, the success rate is very high. The thickness or depth of invasion for a tumor is also an important factor in determining how to treat it.
Melanomas that are very thin, have an excellent prognosis. They are often removed surgically and monitored by frequent full body skin exams. When a melanoma is very thick or invasive further into the body, further tests are often needed such as genetic testing, imaging, or a lymph node biopsy. If a melanoma has spread to another part of the body, one will likely need chemotherapy, additional surgery or radiation.
When should I see someone?
If there is a new or changing mole on your body, it probably should be examined by a trained medical professional. Remembering that early diagnosis and treatment is the most important thing when predicting a good outcome for those with melanoma.
If you have a spot that could be a melanoma, please don’t wait. Call today or request an appointment online with the skin cancer experts at Golden Coast Dermatology, Skin Cancer, and Vein Center.