What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is cancer of the pigment-producing cells of your skin, called melanocytes. It is one of the more dangerous skin cancers, but if caught early it can often be cured.
What causes melanoma?
Genetics and sun exposure combine to play a role in the development of melanomas. Sometimes melanoma can develop on parts of the skin that received little or no sun exposure. Risk factors for developing melanoma include sun exposure, family history, number of moles, freckling, fair skin and light hair.
How is melanoma diagnosed?
Melanoma is diagnosed after a biopsy is done on a suspicious “mole”. The biopsy not only makes the diagnosis possible, but also gives information that helps guide treatment.
How is melanoma treated?
The best way to treat your melanoma depends on the details shown in the biopsy along with additional tests. Your dermatologist will go over your individual case and treatment options in detail. Thin melanomas (ones that don’t go deep below the skin) can sometimes be cured with outpatient surgery and no further tests. Patients with thicker or more aggressive melanomas often undergo further testing to see if the cancer has spread inside the body. These melanomas may need additional treatment after surgery.
What is my prognosis if I have melanoma?
Your prognosis will depend on the stage of your melanoma. Some melanomas carry a great prognosis after treatment, while others do not. The earlier the melanoma is detected, the greater chance of cure.