Dermatologic Surgery : Melanoma

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Melanoma is now expected to affect 1 in every 55 Americans in their lifetime, and it kills one American about every hour. It usually shows up as a dark spot but not always. I have personally treated melanomas that were pink or red in color and had no darkness at all to them. The ABCDs are important in melanoma detection and they stand for A (Asymmetry - one half of the mole looking different from the other half), B (Border - irregular or jagged), C (Color – uneven, different shades), and D (Diameter – more than 6 mm or the size of a pencil eraser). Recently, we have also noted that any changes in moles should be taken seriously. These may include changes in general appearance, elevation, itching, bleeding, irritation, or even a vague feeling to the mole that you cannot quite describe. Melanomas can occur as a completely new mole or occur within an old mole that has been there for years or even since birth. I cannot tell you how often patients have come in with moles that they think are changing which we have then removed and detected skin cancer. There are close to 60,000 new cases in the US every year, and unfortunately over 8,000 deaths. Melanoma is the most likely to spread to other areas of the body. It can grow in areas that have seen very little sun such as the feet and buttocks and even the eyes. It is also a cancer that can stay away for ten or more years, only to come back after seemingly being cured. Melanomas can be cut out with a simple procedure in the office with local numbing.

More information is available at:
National Cancer Institute - Melanoma

National Cancer Institute - Melanoma Treatment

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