Malignant melanoma is potentially life-threatening skin cancer. While it is rarer than basal and squamous cell carcinomas, its incidence is increasing with more than 55,000 new cases being diagnosed each year in the United States. Melanoma is dangerous because, if not caught early, it can have a high rate of metastasis and can affect other organs in your body.
Who is at risk for developing melanoma?
Anyone can develop melanoma, but people that are at higher risk for developing malignant melanoma have the following risk factors:
- Increasing Age
- Previous Skin Cancer
- Family History of Melanoma
- Multiple Atypical Moles
- Fair Skin
What symptoms should I look out for?
Melanoma can appear anywhere on the body. The first signs of melanoma symptoms are usually an unusual looking mole. A good way to remember what spots should be suspected is to use the mnemonic ABCDE:
- B-border irregularity
- C-color variation
- D-diameter -6mm
- E-evolving (enlarging, color changes)
Benign & Malignant Melanoma Examples
Another way to remember is easily summarized by the the “ugly duckling” rules. Is the spot different from the others?
Since melanomas can metastasize to other areas of the body and cause life threatening consequences, it is important to catch melanoma while it is small. If caught early, melanoma is very treatable and has a high cure rate. Due to the serious nature of melanoma, we aggressively treat areas that are suspicious for melanoma. We use surgical excision to treat the melanoma. They need to be surgically excised to ensure that no residual tumor is left behind.
Is it dangerous to leave melanoma untreated?
It is important to catch melanoma early so that it can be treated before it has a chance to grow and spread.
If you have questions concerning Melanoma, call our office and schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Myers. At your visit, Dr. Myers will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan for your condition.