Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that originates in cells called melanocytes, which are in the epidermis. Melanocytes are the cells responsible for the production of melanin, or pigment, which colors the skin. When we spend time in the sun, melanocytes produce excess melanin, which is why the skin tans. Predominantly, melanoma occurs on areas of the body that are regularly exposed to the sun. They may also develop on non-exposed areas like the soles of the feet.
Among skin cancers, melanoma is the most concerning due to its ability to spread to lymph nodes and organs in the body. This type of skin cancer accounts for only 4 percent of cases. However, it is also responsible for 77 percent of deaths attributed to skin cancer. Each year, we see about 100,000 new cases of melanoma skin cancer, a very sad statistic considering most skin cancers can be avoided.
There are specific characteristics to growths that warrant further dermatologic evaluation. If one of the following occurs, your dermatologist should be contacted:
- A change in the pigment of the skin
- The development of moles in close proximity to an existing mole, called satellite moles
- A mole that:
- Is larger than the size of a pencil eraser
- Has changed shape, color, or size
- Contains multiple colors, such a brown and black
- Has irregular borders
- Is shaped differently on two sides
- Itches, oozes, or bleeds
Treatment for melanoma skin cancer
Most often, the treatment best suited to the removal of melanoma is surgery. The surgical removal of melanoma is extremely successful when skin cancer is detected in an early stage in which cancer cells have not spread to lymph nodes or other tissues. The treatment of facial melanoma with surgery is carefully considered in the Huntington office of dermatologist Dr. Roger Koreen.
The goal of skin cancer surgery is to remove the entire abnormal growth, as well as a small portion of surrounding skin. Generally, surgery will remove about one-half inch of healthy tissue around a skin cancer lesion. The removal of skin cancer through excision is intended to decrease the risk of recurrence in the same location.
A number of variables need to be considered when planning the removal of melanoma or any other type of skin cancer. Dr. Koreen has a wealth of knowledge and experience in this area of dermatology, and can help you navigate the process. Call (631) 417-3300 for your consultation at The Dermatology and Cosmetic Laser Center.