Melanoma is the deadliest type of the common skin cancers. Although melanoma accounts for less than 5% of all skin cancer diagnoses, it causes most of the deaths related to skin cancer. As with other common types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, exposure to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds, is considered the major cause for melanoma.
Melanoma is also more common among people with a family history of the disease, and among people who have many, or irregular moles.
In their later stages, melanomas and other skin cancers can produce different signs and symptoms, including changes in color, size, or shape as well as bleeding and pain. However, in their early stages, when they are most curable, skin cancers commonly have no symptoms, and their significant features may only be recognized by a highly knowledgeable dermatologic provider. Thus, patients who are at increased risk of developing skin cancers should be examined regularly, ideally every 6 months, but at least once a year, by a knowledgeable experienced professional.
Several treatment options are available depending on whether the cancer is detected early, or has spread to other parts of the body. When it is detected early, as is almost always the case in our skin check program, simple surgical incision is curative.
If it is detected late, different therapies will be considered such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.
Skin cancer screening is a head-to-toe visual exam of the skin performed to look for any types of abnormalities in the skin, including unusual textures, colors, or growths. Because melanoma and other skin cancers can occur anywhere on the body, the entire skin surface is evaluated during a skin cancer screening, including the scalp and other areas that don’t receive direct sun exposure.
If an abnormal area is detected, a small sample or biopsy will be collected for evaluation in a lab. A local anesthetic is used prior to the biopsy, and can be performed right in the office. A skin cancer screening is quick and easy, and is the most important thing a person can do to reduce their risks of developing advanced skin cancer and death.
*Individual Results May Vary
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