Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, but if it’s diagnosed and treated early, it is nearly always curable. At Hunterdon Hematology Oncology in Flemington, New Jersey, the team offers advanced treatments for melanoma. If you have been diagnosed with melanoma or suspect you may have it, book an appointment online or by phone today to explore your treatment options.
What is melanoma?
Melanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer and is most commonly caused by sun overexposure. In addition to affecting your skin, it can also invade the surrounding tissues and spread to other parts of your body, becoming much more difficult to treat.
There are four major types of melanoma:
- Superficial Spreading Melanoma is the most common type. It is usually flat and irregular in shape and color, with different shades of black and brown. It is most common in Caucasians.
- Nodular Melanoma usually starts as a raised area that is dark blackish-blue or bluish-red. Some do not have any color (amelanotic melanoma).
- Lentigo Maligna Melanoma usually occurs in older people. It is most common in sun-damaged skin on the face, neck, and arms. The abnormal skin areas are usually large, flat, and tan with areas of brown.
- Acral Lentiginous Melanoma is the least common form. It usually occurs on the palms, soles, or under the nails. It is more common in non-Caucasian skin.
If treated early, before it spreads to other organs, melanoma is almost always curable.
What are the risk factors for melanoma?
You are more likely to get melanoma if you:
- Have fair skin or skin that burns easily
- Are exposed to sunlight or use tanning beds for long periods
- Are exposed to radiation, some solvents, and other environmental risks
- Have family members who have unusual moles
- Have many moles yourself
- Carry certain genes
Although having fair skin is a risk factor, people with dark skin can also develop it.
What are the signs and symptoms of melanoma?
If you have one or more risk factors for melanoma, you should keep an eye out for certain signs. You should see your doctor if you have a mole that:
- Is irregularly shaped
- Is more than one color
- Oozes or bleeds
If you notice a change in the pigment of your skin, or if you have new moles that form near existing moles — called satellite moles — you should see the team at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology for an exam.
How is melanoma treated?
The first step in nearly all melanoma treatment plans is the removal of the melanoma. Most of the time, melanoma surgery can be done as an outpatient procedure, meaning you can go home the same day, and in early-stage cancers, it usually completely cures the disease.
Your surgeon at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology may recommend one of several procedures, including a wide excision where your surgeon removes the tumor along with some healthy skin around it.
Mohs surgery is another option. With Mohs surgery, your surgeon removes the tumor in thin layers, examining each layer. When no more cancer cells are detected, the surgeon stops removing layers.
If the cancer is more advanced, your surgeon may recommend removing the lymph nodes near the site of the primary tumor.
If you have melanoma, call Hunterdon Hematology Oncology today or book an appointment online to find the best treatment for you.