Melanoma represents a small percentage of skin cancer cases, but it is responsible for the vast majority of deaths caused by the disease. It can spread quickly through the body, which is what makes is such a serious condition. However, when your dermatologist diagnoses melanoma in its early stages, it is easy to treat, so knowing how to recognize the signs could save your life. Here is what you need to know about the symptoms of melanoma and what treatment options are available.
The most common symptom of melanoma is a mole that has either just appeared or has changed in appearance. Dermatologists recommend that patients remember ABCDE when they are evaluating their moles:
- A means asymmetrical shape and refers to moles do not have a uniform shame.
- B stands for border. Moles that are a sign of melanoma often have irregular borders.
- C means change or color. If an existing mole changes colors, or if the color is not uniform across the mole, then it could indicate cancer.
- D means diameter. Any mole larger than one-fourth of an inch could indicate melanoma.
- E stands for evolving. Moles that change shape, size, or color or that develop new characteristics, such as bleeding or itchiness, could be cancerous.
Sometimes, melanoma symptoms are hidden under nails, between the toes, on the scalp, in the genitals, and even in the eyes. The best way to detect these hidden melanomas is to see your dermatologist regularly for a skin check.
Melanoma Treatment Options
The treatment for melanoma depends on many factors, including the stage of the disease when it is diagnosed. In early stages, your dermatologist may recommend that the entire melanoma be removed.
If the melanoma has spread to other parts of your body, there are other treatments that can help. These include surgery to remove your lymph nodes, chemotherapy, radiation, and biological therapy.
Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology provides skin cancer diagnosis and treatment in our office to help patients get the early diagnoses they need. To make an appointment with a dermatologist in Salt Lake City, please call (801) 266-8841.
Malignant melanoma is a deadly skin cancer. Dermatologists have good success treating it if it’s diagnosed early, but when it goes undetected, melanoma can become very serious. Fortunately, there are some precautions you can take to dramatically reduce your risk of developing malignant melanoma and other skin cancers. In addition to taking the following precautions, you should schedule a skin cancer screening every year, and do a skin self-exam monthly.
Avoid unnecessary sun exposure.
It’s a common myth that unprotected exposure to sunshine is healthy, given the need for vitamin D. But actually, humans only need a little bit of sun exposure to absorb vitamin D. This vitamin is also present in some enriched food products. So protect your skin by staying out of the sun as much as possible. Schedule outdoor activities for the morning or evening hours, when the sun is weakest. When you do go outdoors, wear clothing that covers much of the skin, and put on a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses labeled for UV protection. If you shop around, you can even find clothing designed to reduce UV exposure.
Avoid tanning beds.
Artificial sources of UV rays are just as harmful as UV rays from the sun. Avoid tanning beds at all costs. If you want to get your skin glowing, you can use a tanning lotion that doesn’t require any UV exposure to work.
Use sunscreen every day.
Everyone should apply sunscreen every day, no matter what time of year it is or what the weather is like outdoors. Clouds aren’t effective filters for UV rays, and cold temperatures have no effect on them at all. Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply a generous amount to all areas of exposed skin, making sure to get commonly missed areas like your ears, back of the neck, face, and back of the hands. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you sweat heavily or go swimming.
Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology invites new and current patients to schedule a skin cancer screening at our state-of-the-art dermatology clinic in Salt Lake City. We emphasize the critical importance of preventive health because the well-being and quality of life of our patients are important to us. You can reach us at (801) 266-8841.
When you see your dermatologist for a skin cancer screening, there are several things that he looks for. If you’re curious about what melanoma looks like, then watch this video for tips on identifying this form of skin cancer.
First, your dermatologist will check your moles for signs of asymmetry or an irregular pattern along the edge. Also, moles normally have sharp, clear borders, while the pigment tends to bleed into the normal skin tissue in the case of melanoma. Finally, a mole with multiple colors, that is changing in appearance, or that is new and larger than 6mm should be evaluated by a dermatologist.
If you are overdue for a skin cancer screening or have questions about skin care, then come and see us at Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology. Please call (801) 266-8841 to schedule your appointment with one of our dermatologists in Salt Lake City .
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