Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer most often caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds or the sun. Melanoma grows when damage to skin cells, such as from ultraviolet radiation, triggers mutations that cause skin cells to begin rapidly multiplying into malignant tumors in a layer of the skin known as the basal layer. On the skin, melanomas tend to take on the appearance of a mole. Read on to learn the signs and treatment of melanoma.
When caught early, melanoma is likely curable. However, if left untreated, melanoma can result in death. In the United States alone, it is estimated that melanoma is responsible for 10,130 deaths annually. If you suspect you may be suffering from skin cancer, such as melanoma, make an appointment to be evaluated by a professional at Blue Ridge Dermatology today.
Types of Melanoma
There are 4 main types of melanoma. The first 3 types listed begin in the top layers of the skin and have the ability to become invasive as the progress. The 4th type is invasive from the start and the most serious form, found in 10 to 15 percent of melanoma cases.
- Superficial Spreading Melanoma: The most common form of melanoma which spreads across the skin before penetrating more deeply.
- Lentigo Maligna: Most commonly in the elderly, this form of melanoma is similar to the superficial spreading melanoma.
- Acral Lentiginous Melanoma: Most often found under nails or on the soles of feet or palms of hands, this form of melanoma is most common in African-Americans and Asians.
- Nodular Melanoma: This is the most aggressive form of melanoma and it is already invasive by the time of diagnosis.
Although melanoma is not the most common form of skin cancer, it has the highest mortality rate. Therefore, it is important to check your skin regularly and seek medical attention when you see something suspicious. The appearance of melanoma can differ person to person, but below are warning signs that you should be aware of.
Melanoma Warning Signs:
- A newly formed black or brown mole
- A mole that appears skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white
- A mole or spot that has a variety of colors
- A mole or spot that is asymmetrical
- A mole or spot that has uneven, notched, or scalloped edges
- A mole or spot that is larger in diameter than a pencil eraser
- A mole or spot that changes over time
In order to treat melanoma, the doctors at Blue Ridge Dermatology will first remove the infected mole or area. This is commonly done by a surgical excision in the office. Our doctors will outline the melanoma with a pen, including what is known as a “safety margin”. Local anesthesia will be used for pain management, and our doctors will take extreme care to only remove the necessary amount of tissue, while still insuring all damaged cells are removed.
Following the procedure, the “safety margin” will be evaluated by the lab to make sure the skin cancer has been completely removed. If needed, surgery will be completed a second time.
The doctors at Blue Ridge Dermatology will work closely with you to make sure all skin cancer is identified, treated, and removed. Your health is our personal goal. If you have not had your annual skin check, contact us today to schedule your exam.