What You Should Know about Melanoma
Posted on: 1 June 2015
If you notice an oddly-shaped spot on your skin that is discolored or changing in its appearance, you might have skin cancer. There are many forms of skin cancers, with melanoma being one of the most aggressive. Here is important information to know about this particular type of skin cancer.
What are the risk factors?
The first thing you should know is whether or not you are at risk of developing melanoma. If so, you can be sure to inspect your skin regularly and see a dermatologist in case you have spots that need to be looked at. If you have had skin cancer before, you are at a very high risk of developing it again. You may also get melanomas if you have lighter skin, use a tanning bed frequently and over long periods of time, and if you spend a lot of time outdoors. Other risk factors for this type of cancer include:
- Having large moles
- Close relative with skin cancer
- Having a high quantity of moles on your body
- Weakened immune system
- Tendency to freckle and burn
What do melanomas look like?
It is also very important that you recognize early warning signs of melanoma and other skin cancers so you can get treatment right away. The main thing you are looking for is spots or moles on your body that are changing in their appearance. Some additional things to look for include:
- Asymmetry – Most healthy moles are the same on both sides. If you have one that is not symmetrical, see a dermatologist.
- Borders – Moles with borders around them that are either a different color or have a scalloped edge, you should get them looked at.
- Uneven colors – Be wary of any spots, freckles, or moles with uneven color. If a mole has a pinkish side and a brownish side, it should definitely be examined.
- Larger moles – Moles that are larger in size should also be examined. Melanomas usually spread horizontally, so the diameter of the mole will change.
How are melanomas treated?
The treatment for melanoma skin cancer depends on the stage. Early-stage melanomas have yet to travel to other parts of your body, so you probably don't need to get radiation therapy or chemotherapy. These earlier stage treatments usually involve cutting out the melanoma and surrounding skin tissue. This is very effective at getting rid of the cancerous tumors. However, if the tumors are large or spreading, they will be classified in a later stage. You may need to remove them in addition to getting other types of cancer treatments. This helps to prevent it from spreading even further. For more information on melanomas, talk to a dermatologist like Southwest Dermatology Institute.Share