Who Can Develop Melanoma?
Though many think that only people with fair skin can develop melanoma, everyone can be at risk. People of color are likely to first develop melanoma on their hands, feet, or underneath their nails. In some rare cases, melanoma can begin in the eyes, mouth, genitals, and internal organs.
There are certain risk factors for melanoma, though. These include having fair skin, experiencing sunburns that peel, having more than 50 moles, having abnormal moles, having a family history of melanoma, and getting frequent sun exposure from outdoor activity or tanning beds.
Types of Melanoma
There are several different types of melanoma, though it is important that each type is caught early to reduce the chance of spread to other parts of the body.
Superficial melanoma refers to cancer that starts in the upper layers of the skin and slowly grows to spread across more skin. It usually originates in or near a mole that already existed on the skin.
Nodular melanoma is a type of cancer where a new growth on the skin develops rather rapidly. This growth is usually red in color and most commonly appears on the head, neck, chest, and back.
Lentigo maligna melanoma is a type of cancer that develops in older individuals and most frequently appears on areas that were exposed to the sun for years. This type of cancer develops off of a previously existing precancerous condition, lentigo maligna.
Treatment Options for Melanoma
When caught early, melanoma is a highly treatable form of cancer with high success rates. However, some people do not notice skin abnormalities in hard-to-see areas and do not seek treatment until other symptoms develop. This is why scheduling a yearly full-body skin exam is so important.
Thankfully, most melanomas are easily treated by surgical excision. During this procedure, a margin of healthy skin surrounding the biopsy site will also be removed to ensure all of the abnormal cells have been removed. The biopsy will then be sent to a lab for further testing and many patients will be brought in for more frequent checks to monitor their skin closely.
When the melanoma is caught at an advanced stage, additional testing and scans, especially of the lymph nodes, will be needed. These tests are done to see if the cancer has spread, where it has spread, and how advanced it is in those areas. After these results come in, if a patient is diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, surgery to remove the cancer, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation is likely required.
Leave your skincare to the experts. Melanoma is an exceptionally serious condition, but it is easily treated when caught early. If you would like to experience premier dermatological care to achieve beautiful and healthy skin, please schedule your appointment with Dr. Ip today.