What You Should Know About Melanoma

What You Should Know About Melanoma

Skin cancer is very common in the United States. In fact, one in five Americans gets skin cancer in their lifetime, making it the most common type of cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are the two most common types, but of all types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most serious. That’s because melanoma tends to be more aggressive and spreads elsewhere in your body faster than other types (metastasize).

If you get a melanoma diagnosis, treating it promptly is the best way to reduce your risk of significant complications. Our team at the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery, located in Peoria, Arizona, can help. Rachel Alt, MD, and Brian Prebil, DO, specialize in melanoma treatment using the latest minimally-invasive technologies.

Anyone can get melanoma, and protecting your health starts by educating yourself about the condition. Here’s what you need to know.

Melanoma is aggressive

Melanoma develops when cancerous cells start growing in melanocytes — the cells that give your skin color. It’s usually triggered by ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or tanning beds, but not always.

Melanoma is most common in parts of your skin that get sun exposure, like your face, arms, and legs. It often starts in moles, but it’s essential to know that it can develop anywhere on your body.

It’s the most dangerous type of skin cancer because it can easily spread to other organs in your body. If it’s left undetected or untreated, it becomes more difficult to treat.

Early detection is key

The earlier skin cancer is identified, the sooner it can be treated. In fact, the five-year survival rate of melanoma is 99% when it’s detected early.

Detecting melanoma early reduces the chance that it has spread to other areas of your body. Plus, treatment is more effective for localized cancer in its early stages.

To protect yourself against melanoma and other types of skin cancer, you should get professional skin checks annually. Our team examines your skin for changes or other signs of cancer and orders additional testing if needed.

Along with professional skin exams, you can perform melanoma skin checks at home using the ABCDE method. Routinely examine your skin and look for:

Asymmetry: Asymmetric moles may be cancerous.

Border: Melanoma can cause irregular or ragged borders around moles.

Color: Cancerous moles often contain multiple colors or shades.

Diameter: Cancer may create moles larger than ¼ inch, or the size of a pencil eraser.

Evolution: Moles that change in color, shape, or size may be cancerous.

You have treatment options

Finding out that you have melanoma is scary, but treatment can eliminate the cancerous cells. Our team recommends the best treatment for you depending on the type of cancer you have and its stage.

Very small melanomas may be removed in a biopsy. Larger melanomas that haven’t spread anywhere else may be treated with excision to remove all the cancerous cells from your skin. 

If there's a chance that cancer may have spread to your lymph nodes, we may recommend lymph node dissection to look for signs of cancer. You might also need immunotherapy, chemotherapy, or other treatments to eliminate cancerous cells throughout your body. 

Don’t wait to seek treatment if you think you might have skin cancer. Schedule an appointment with our team at the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery. Call our Peoria, Arizona, office at 623-227-2581 or send us a message online.

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