Cancer is one of the scariest words in the English language and any kind of cancer diagnosis has the potential to frighten and overwhelm a person. However, while skin cancer remains the most prevalent form of cancer diagnosed today, affecting people of all skin types and shades, it’s also one of the easiest forms to treat, particularly when detected early. Melanoma is one of the most dangerous types of skin cancer that arises from melanocytes, which are the cells that create pigment, or color, in the skin.
Our board-certified dermatologists at Houston Skin are experts in diagnosing and treating skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. We also have a fully accredited Mohs surgery lab in-house, which ensures our patients have the best chance for a cure.
If you currently have an atypical growth or have received a melanoma diagnosis, we urge you to contact us at Houston Skin for an evaluation. With early skin cancer screening, not only is it possible to detect melanoma as early as possible but it will also give you the best chance for effective treatment. If cancer is found, our dermatologists will create a comprehensive and compassionate treatment plan to get you the best long-term outcomes.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is also called malignant melanoma. This dangerous form of skin cancer often grows from a mole or resembles a mole, but can quickly evolve or change. Most melanomas are black or brown, though they can also be flesh-colored, pink, blue or white. In addition, there are some specific risk factors that increase a person’s chance of developing melanoma. These risk factors include:
- Overexposure to the sun
- Blistering sunburns, most often in childhood
- Fair-skinned complexion
- Numerous moles on the skin
- Family history of melanoma
LEARN THE SYMPTOMS OF MELANOMA
Early detection and treatment are the key to successfully treating melanoma, otherwise, it can advance and spread to other parts of the body. Once melanoma has spread, it becomes more difficult to treat successfully. There are some specific symptoms of melanoma that, if experienced, should be evaluated by one of our skin cancer experts at Houston Skin. Most commonly, melanomas develop on the back and legs but can be found anywhere on the body.
The following are the “ABCDE’s” of identifying potential skin cancer symptoms:
Asymmetry: When one side of the mole isn’t quite equal to the other half, either in terms of shape, color or outline.
Borders: If the borders are uneven, wavy or irregular, this can be a sign of melanoma.
Color: Moles can be black, brown, tan, even red, pink or gray but if a mole is several colors or changes color, this can be a sign of skin cancer.
Diameter: Melanomas are typically larger than the tip of a pencil eraser.
Changes: Any change in size, shape, color, or any new symptoms such as bleeding, itching, or crusting, may be a sign of melanoma.
Learn more about malignant melanoma at WebMD.com.
Melanoma must be diagnosed with a biopsy. Our practitioners at Houston Skin will carefully examine your mole or suspicious spot. A biopsy may be performed in order to send a specimen to the lab for further evaluation. If you receive a positive biopsy report, we will evaluate your level of melanoma, which indicates how deeply and/or widespread the cancer has grown. Based on these findings, we will then create an individualized treatment plan to successfully eliminate the melanoma.
This is usually the first line of treatment for melanoma and involves the surgical removal of the cancerous tissue and a margin of surrounding skin.
The earlier that melanoma is diagnosed, the better the outcome for all patients. In addition to performing personal skin checks, it’s essential to have a yearly skin check with one of our practitioners at Houston Skin so that skin cancer or abnormality can be caught in its earliest stage. If a person falls into a higher risk category, a full skin examination may be recommended 2-4 times per year.