Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer — and it’s common too. Melanoma cases in the United States have doubled over the last three decades, and one person dies of melanoma every hour, every day.
At Skinworks Dermatology, with three New York City locations, dermatologist Javier Zelaya, MD, and our team are dedicated to providing for all of your skin care needs. Here we look at melanoma and the treatment options available to you.
How melanoma starts
Melanoma begins in the cells (melanocytes) that are found in the upper layer of your skin. These cells produce melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its color. When your skin is overexposed to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, it can damage the melanocytes and lead to melanoma.
You may have melanoma if you see raised or darkened moles on your body that seem unusual compared with smaller moles or freckles. It may be helpful to remember the ABCDE method for identifying a suspicious mole.
- Mole is Asymmetrical
- Border is uneven
- Mole changes Color
- Diameter is size of a pencil eraser
- Mole Evolves in size, shape, or color
Having a history of getting sunburned is a risk factor for developing melanoma, so it’s important that you protect yourself as much as possible from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
How to protect yourself
To lower your risk of developing melanoma, take a few precautions, including:
- Avoid tanning beds
- Wear protective clothing when it’s sunny
- Use a high SPF sunscreen of at least 30
- Avoid going outside during peak sun times
- Wear sunglasses
Sun protection is all the more important if you have fair skin or a family or personal history of skin cancer, two more factors that place you at increased risk for developing melanoma.
Your treatment options
Don’t hesitate to call us at Skinworks Dermatology if you have a skin lesion that looks suspicious. When you come in for your appointment, we first run the appropriate tests to determine whether a mole is cancerous. We may take a biopsy, a small piece of the mole, for testing.
If your melanoma is in the early stages, then we can simply remove it. This may involve removing the mole itself as well as some tissue surrounding and underneath the mole.
If your melanoma has advanced, it may require more aggressive treatment methods like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery if it’s spread to your lymph nodes.
Needless to say, catching melanoma early makes it much easier to treat effectively. To learn more, call the office nearest you or request an appointment online.