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Melanoma

What Is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer, and while only about 1 percent of skin cancers are melanoma, it’s important to be able to pinpoint the warning signs early on when it’s highly treatable. It’s estimated that around 100,000 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the coming year alone and that nearly 7,000 people will die from melanoma. Rates of melanoma have been rapidly increasing over the decades and it’s important that you know what to look for when it comes to melanoma.

The Signs of Melanoma

A healthy mole will remain the same size, color and shape over the years. Therefore, the most common warning sign of melanoma is any new growth or spot on the skin that is changing color, shape or size. If you notice any changes in any growths in your body it’s a good idea to have them properly examined by our dermatologist Dr. Richard Cirelli, who offers comprehensive melanoma screenings here in the Prescott Valley, AZ, area.

The ABCDE rule is a helpful guide to pinpoint unusual changes in your skin that could be a warning sign of melanoma. The ABCDE rule tells you what to look out for such as,

  • Asymmetry: Melanoma moles or growths are more likely to be asymmetrical in appearance while both halves of a healthy mole will look identical in shape, size and overall appearance.
  • Border: Melanoma will often exhibit ragged, uneven or poorly defined borders or edges
  • Color: Healthy moles will be one color while melanoma is more likely to have multiple colors or shades of brown or black or even patches of pink, white or red.
  • Diameter: While melanoma may be rather small, the majority of them are over 6mm in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser)
  • Evolving: Melanoma is more likely to change appearance (remember, healthy moles stay relatively the same over the years)

Even if you aren’t noticing any changes in your skin it’s still important that you perform self-exams on your skin once a month and visit a qualified dermatologist for a comprehensive melanoma and skin cancer screening once a year (if you are at an increased risk for melanoma you may want to come in twice a year).

Treating Melanoma

How our dermatologist treats your melanoma will depend on the location and stage of the cancer. Early-stage melanoma is often treated through a simple surgical excision or Mohs surgery to remove the growth. In more advanced stages of melanoma, targeted therapy drugs, chemotherapy, radiation or immunotherapy may be recommended.

It’s important that if you notice any changes in your skin that you consult with a dermatologist right away. The sooner melanoma is diagnosed and treated the better. 

Call Sunwest Dermatology and Skin Cancer Treatment Center at (928) 445-7546 to schedule your annual skin cancer screening.

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