Sometimes referred to as malignant melanoma, this form of skin cancer is extremely dangerous and sometimes resembles moles or can even develop from non-cancerous moles. While the vast majority of these melanomas are brown or black, they can also be pink, purple, blue, red, white or skin-colored. Melanoma when recognized and treated early, is curable in almost all cases. However if left untreated, the cancer may spread to other parts of the body and become difficult to effectively treat. Melanoma Treatment can be successfully treated with surgery alone.
Skin Cancer Symptoms – The ABCDE’s
Catching melanoma symptoms as early as possible is extremely important. Melanoma is commonly found on the back or legs. Below are photos and descriptions of some melanoma symptoms you should constantly check for.
Melanoma Diagnosis and Treatment
At the Golla Center for Dermatology in Pittsburgh, we will carefully look at your mole and any other suspicious looking spots using a dermascope to magnify your skin which reveals structures and pigments that can not be seen with other magnification methods.
If our dermatologists find a suspicious spot or mole, they will remove it and send a sample to our lab. This procedure referred to as a biopsy is the only way to accurately diagnose Melanoma.
A biopsy is extremely quick with minimal risk and discomfort to our patients and shouldn’t be a cause for anxiety. The biopsy report can also reveal level of the melanoma which informs us how deep into the skin the cancer has grown. This is important as deeper the melanoma grows, the more dangerous it becomes.
If the biopsy reveals a presence of melanoma, the next step would be surgical excision of any remaining cancerous cells and additionally a section of healthy surrounding tissue for safety. Usually, for superficial Melanoma, this procedure can easily be completed at the Golla Center for Dermatology in Pittsburgh.
Melanomas are almost always diagnosed in the early superficial stages. These have a cure rate close to 100%. It is vital to have an annual skin exam so that any melanoma can be caught early and treated promptly. If you have been exposed to high risk factors, we recommend a semi-annual exam.
Risk Factors of Melanoma
Prolonged Sun Exposure
The more exposure to sunlight, the higher your risk. Childhood sunburns can especially increase your risk, however cumulative exposure is also a major factor.
Number of moles on the skin
A high number of moles indicates a greater risk of melanoma.
Fair and light skinned individuals are at increased risk.
Genetic predisposition also plays a significant role in developing melanoma. Those with an immediate family member that has developed melanoma have 50% greater risk of developing one.