Melanoma is a serious and potentially deadly type of skin cancer, but there is hope. The surgeons at Association of South Bay Surgeons check irregular moles, diagnose melanoma, and provide effective treatments like excisional skin biopsy when they’re needed.
Melanoma Q & A
Melanoma is a type of aggressive skin cancer. This type of cancer comes from cells which produce skin color. The cause of this skin cancer is likely from overexposure to the sun and its powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays. The damage from overexposure to the sun can lead to moles or skin changes. Not all moles are cancerous, but those with unusual characteristics may indicate melanoma. It is highly recommended to get your skin checked regularly especially if you are under the sun a lot or frequent the tanning salon.
The cause of malignant melanoma is the uncontrolled expansion of the melanocytes, the pigment cells of the skin. Studies suggest that UV radiation is a major contributor to this melanocyte growth. Both sun exposure and tanning beds may cause melanomas. UV radiation damages the DNA within the cells, and this results in mutations in the genes. As the rapid cellular division occurs, those mutations are transmitted to new sets of cells. Soon, the growth rate can be uncontrollable, resulting in tumors.
Usually there are no symptoms associated with melanoma until late stages of the disease.
Only a doctor can diagnose malignant melanomas. A malignant melanoma is typically asymmetrical, has an irregular border, has more than 1 color, and is more than 6 mm in size. Patients should also keep a close watch on wounds as they heal, because slow-healing lesions may indicate melanoma. The doctor performs both a visual exam and another type of skin exam, such as a dermatoscopic exam. Growths that are suspected to be malignant melanomas are typically biopsied.
Treatment of melanoma
The treatment of this disease usually requires a team of physicians such as a dermatologist, oncologist, and surgeon. However, once diagnosed with melanoma the only cure is complete resection. This will require a wide resection around the melanoma skin site. Also, melanoma travels from the original location to other locations in the body through lymph nodes. If the melanoma is deep enough on the skin it may be necessary to check and remove several surrounding lymph nodes to see if the melanoma has not spread.
Aside from surgery, other medical treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation therapy may play a supporting role.
This will depend on the location of the melanoma and whether or not lymph nodes will need to be taken. Also at times if the site of the melanoma is on the face or is large a plastic surgeon may be needed for reconstruction.
For the majority of patients with skin melanoma, patients usually return home 2-3 hours after surgery. Select few may require an overnight stay in the hospital depending on if or how many lymph nodes are taken and how large the skin resection is. Most patients have mild surgery incision site pain lasting 3-5 days and usually resume full physical activity within 2-3 weeks.
Squamous Cell Cancer
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin is the second most common form of skin cancer. When caught early most SCCs are curable.
Squamous cells are one of the three main type of skin cells. These cells are flat and located near the surface of the skin that shed continuously as new ones form.
SCC occurs when DNA is damaged from exposure to the sun or from chronic inflammation. SCCs can appear as scaly red patches, open sores, thickened or wart-like skin, or raised growths with a central depression. At times, SCCs may crust over, itch or bleed. The lesions most commonly arise in sun-exposed areas of the skin.
While the majority of SCCs can be easily and successfully treated, if allowed to grow, these lesions can become disfiguring, dangerous and even deadly. Untreated SCCs can become invasive, grow into deeper layers of skin and spread to other parts of the body.
If you are uncertain or concerned you may have SCC Please call our office today and we will arrange for a prompt surgical evaluation!
Basal Cell Cancer
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. In the U.S. alone, more than 4 million cases are diagnosed each year. BCCs arise from abnormal, uncontrolled growth of basal cells.
Because BCCs grow slowly, most are curable and cause minimal damage when caught and treated early.
Basal cells are one of the three type of skin cells. BCC most often occurs from DNA damage sustained by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or indoor tanning.
BCCs can look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, scars or growths with slightly elevated, rolled edges and/or a central indentation. At times, BCCs may ooze, crust, itch or bleed. The lesions commonly arise in sun-exposed areas of the body.
While BCCs rarely spread beyond the original site, if allowed to grow, these lesions can be disfiguring and dangerous. Untreated BCCs can become locally invasive, grow wide and deep into the skin and destroy skin, tissue and bone. The longer left untreated, the more likely it is to recur.
If you are uncertain or concerned you may have BCC Please call our office today and we will arrange for a prompt surgical evaluation!
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