Melanoma is a type of cancer arising from the pigment-producing cells in the uppermost layer of the skin, called melanocytes. Melanoma that originates in the skin is called cutaneous melanoma. The cause is thought to be genetic damage in the melanocytes due to ultraviolet radiation, which is present in sunlight and in tanning beds. Children and adolescents are especially vulnerable to the effects of ultraviolet light. If you suspect melanoma or experience any of the following signs and symptoms, contact Compassion Dermatology today to schedule a consultation with our dermatologist in Keller, TX.
The Signs and Symptoms
Typically, the first sign of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color or feel of an existing mole. Most melanomas have an area that is black or blue-black. Melanoma may also appear as a new, black, abnormal mole. Although rare, melanoma may appear without pigmentation and is more difficult to diagnose. It may also appear as a non-healing ulcer or a new scar-like mass in the skin. Our dermatologist in Keller, TX will be glad to assist you.
The warning signs are often referred to as ABCDE:
- Asymmetry — Two sides that are not the same
- Border — Borders are irregular, scalloped or vague
- Color — Color is variable, including shades of tan, brown, black, blue, red and white
- Diameter — A lesion that is more than 6 millimeters in diameter,
- Evolution — Lesions that change or evolve
It is important to note that some melanomas differ from the ABCDE rule, so it’s important to be aware of changes in the skin.
Other potential warning signs include:
- A sore that will not heal
- A new growth
- The spread of color from the border of a spot to surrounding skin
- Redness or a new swelling beyond the moles border
- Sensation changes, such as itchiness, tenderness or pain
- Change in a mole’s surface such as scaling, oozing, bleeding or the appearance of a bump or nodule
If you note any of these changes, contact a dermatologist in Keller, TX for a consultation and evaluation.
A biopsy will be provided for any suspected melanoma, using a local anesthetic. A pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present. If identified as cancer, the characteristics of the melanoma will determine the proper treatment, and the likelihood of success.Staging Melanoma
Stage 0 melanomas are confined to the upper layers of the skin (epidermis), called the epidermis, and has not spread any deeper. There is no evidence of spread to lymph nodes or to distant sites (metastasis). Typically, surgical removal of the cancer is effective. However, routine monitoring with your doctor or a dermatologist in Keller, TX should be provided for the slight risk of recurrence.
Stage I melanomas have invaded through the epidermis, and is up to 2 mm thick. Ulceration may or may not be present. In stage I melanoma, there is no evidence the cancer has spread to the lymph glands or metastasized to distant sites.
Stage II melanomas have invaded deeper into the skin. As it becomes deeper, there is a greater risk of its spread to other sites in the body. Sentinel lymph node biopsies may be performed to determine if the cancer has invaded the lymph nodes. Contact Compassion Dermatology today to schedule an appointment with our dermatologist in Keller, TX.
Stage III melanomas have spread to the local lymph nodes. The risk of recurrence is high, as well as the risk of invading organs. After surgery, treatment is provided in the attempt to reduce the risk of recurrence. There is no evidence of distant metastasis.
In stage IV, the cancer has spread from the lymph nodes to distant areas of the body (metastasized). Patients are typically treated with systemic therapy. Each patient’s case is assessed individually to identify the best treatment options. Common sites include the lungs, abdominal organs, bone, brain and soft tissues. It’s best not to wait when suspicious moles or non-healing wounds occur. Contact Compassion Dermatology to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist in Keller, TX.
Melanomas are likely to have specific DNA mutations, depending on the location of origin. Identifying the mutations is important as it may be related to a higher response rate in specific treatments. Surgery is the standard first treatment. The surgery removes the melanoma and some of the surrounding tissue. The may reduce the chance of any remaining cancer. The width and depth of the excision depend on the thickness of the melanoma and the depth of invasion. A dermatologist in Keller, TX can provide you with the professional consultation you need.
Very thin melanomas may not require additional surgery, whereas the thicker melanomas may require additional surgery and other treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation, biological therapy or other forms of treatment. Your doctor or dermatologist in Keller, TX can provide the diagnosis you need.
Chemotherapy is generally a systemic treatment that kills cancer cells. It may be given orally or into a blood vessel. Depending on the type of medication provided, and your health, chemotherapy may be administered in a doctor’s office, a clinic, hospital or in your home.
Biological therapy, also called immunotherapy, is a type of treatment that uses the body’s immune system, to fight cancer or to reduce side effects caused by some forms of cancer treatments. Biological therapy involves the use of biological response modifiers (BRMs). Produced in small amounts naturally within the body, BRMs respond to infection and disease. BRMs are produced in modern laboratories in large amounts for use in the treatment of cancer, and in some cases may prevent melanoma from recurring.