Curable if caught early, melanoma can invade healthy tissue and spread to other parts of the body if not treated.
What is melanoma?
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell are the other two main types) that usually presents as a mole that changes size, shape or color.
Who develops melanoma?
The primary risk factor for melanoma is UV radiation from sun exposure. You’re more likely to develop melanoma if you:
have had at least one blistering sunburn in your life
have a personal history of melanoma or basal cell or squamous cell
have a family history of melanoma
have skin that burns easily, light-colored eyes, red or blond hair or freckles
take medicines that make your skin more sensitive to the sun
use a tanning bed or sunlamp, especially before age 30
What are the symptoms of melanoma?
The symptoms of melanoma often follow the ABCDE rule: asymmetry (mismatched halves), border (ragged, blurred or otherwise irregular borders), color (varying shades of black, brown or tan, as well as white, gray, red, pink or blue), diameter (usually bigger than a pea) and evolving (change is seen over the weeks or months). Melanoma in its more advanced stages may look hard or lumpy, or ooze and bleed. Itchiness, tenderness and pain are also possible.
How is melanoma diagnosed?
If your doctor finds the growth suspicious, he or she will take a portion or all of it (called a biopsy) and send it out to a lab for further analysis.
How is melanoma treated?
Treatment for melanoma will depend on the cancer’s stage and location as well as your individual health. Treatment options may include surgery, adjuvant therapy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, among others.
Valley Hospital is proud to offer the latest treatment options for melanoma. For more information, call 201-634-5706.