Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer. Normal pigment-producing cells become cancerous and aggressively invade surrounding healthy tissue. Most melanomas resemble moles and are brown or black, but they can also be pink, red, purple, white or skin colored. Melanoma is typically caused from exposure to UV radiation from the sun.
Fair skin, an excessive amount of moles, a history of sunburns and a family history of melanoma may increase the risk of developing melanoma.
Melanoma often appears as a mole and tends to be larger than a pencil eraser, uneven in color, asymmetrical, and ragged around the border.
Your doctor will begin with a physical examination, review of your medical history and review of your family history to diagnose melanoma. In most cases a biopsy is used to confirm melanoma. Your doctor will remove all or part of the suspicious growth for further examination by a pathologist.
Melanoma may remain only in the skin or it may spread through the blood or lymph system to other organs and bones. It is important to diagnose the tumor’s spread to the lymph glands early and the sentinel lymph node biopsy technique is a minimally invasive way to do so.
Melanoma can typically be treated successfully if it’s detected early. It is important to know the symptoms of melanoma and to see an experienced doctor in order to treat the condition before it spreads.
Treatment for early stage melanoma may only include a biopsy to remove the growth. More advanced cases of melanoma may require surgery as well as additional therapeutic options for the most effective treatment.
The Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center at Mercy provides a team of multidisciplinary experts offering the most comprehensive treatment for melanoma including: