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What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer that develops in cells called melanocytes. These cells produce melanin or the pigment that gives color to your skin. The type of skin cancer can also form in your eyes, and rarely in your nose and throat as well. While the exact cause of melanoma is not confirmed, exposure to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds can increase your risk of developing it.

Common symptoms of melanoma include a change in an existing mole or the development of a new unusual-looking growth. To help best identify the characteristics of unusual looking moles, think of the letters ABCDE.

  • Asymmetry: Moles with irregular shapes, or those that are asymmetrical.
  • Border: Moles with irregular or scalloped borders.
  • Color: Growths that contain many different colors or an uneven distribution of color.
  • Diameter: A mole that is larger than 1/4 inch in size.
  • Evolution: Changes that occur to a mole over time, including size, color, or shape.

Melanoma FAQs

Can a melanoma appear overnight?

No. There are certain kinds of melanoma that can appear over months, but not overnight.

Can melanoma be picked up in blood tests?

Not yet. We use biopsy to diagnose melanoma.

Is Stage 1 melanoma considered cancer?


What is the most common treatment for melanoma?

Excision is the standard of care for melanoma.

When should you get moles checked?

If you have multiple moles, you should have a skin examination annually with your dermatologist.

Can chemo cure melanoma?

We have many new treatments for advanced melanoma.

Do you need chemo for melanoma?

Chemotherapy is used less often for melanoma and only once its spread beyond just the skin. Other treatments are tried before chemo is considered an option.

Can melanoma be caused by stress?


How do you know if a spot is skin cancer?

If you have a suspicious lesion, you should have a skin examination by a dermatologist to determine if you have skin cancer.

Is melanoma flat or raised?

Melanoma can be flat or raised.

What does a melanoma spot look like?

We teach people to look for the ABCDEs: asymmetry, irregular borders, changing or dark colors, diameter larger than a pencil eraser, and if it is evolving (changing). A dermatologist can determine if it is suspicious with clinical and dermatoscopic evaluation.

Can a dermatologist tell if a mole is cancerous just by looking at it?

The only way to be 100% sure a mole is cancerous is to have a biopsy and microscopic evaluation.

Does vitamin D prevent melanoma?

There is some evidence that low vitamin D levels can predispose some people to many kinds of cancer, but it isnt the only factor in developing melanoma.

How do you know if a mole is suspicious?

We teach people to look for the ABCDEs: asymmetry, irregular borders, changing or dark colors, diameter larger than a pencil eraser, and if it is evolving (changing). A dermatologist can determine if it is suspicious with clinical and dermatoscopic evaluation.

Should you see an oncologist for melanoma?

It depends on the stage of the melanoma. For thin, early melanomas, we often excise the melanoma and follow the patients with regular skin exams for life.

Melanoma Treatment

The ideal treatment for your melanoma will depend on the size and stage of skin cancer, and your overall health. Some of the most common treatments include:

Treatment for Small Melanomas

For early-stage or small melanomas, treatment typically includes minor surgery. This will involve removing the melanoma, as well as a border of normal skin. This will be examined under a microscope to ensure that all cancer cells have been removed.

Treatment for Melanomas that Have Spread

For melanoma that has spread beyond the skin, treatment may include:

  • Immunotherapy: This is a drug treatment that helps the immune system to fight cancer. It is often needed after surgery for melanoma that has spread to other areas of the body such as the lymph nodes.
  • Surgery to remove affected lymph nodes: Your surgeon may need to remove affected lymph nodes if melanoma has spread to them.
  • Targeted therapy: This drug treatment concentrates on specific weaknesses that are present within cancer cells. By targeting these weaknesses, cancer cells can die.
  • Radiation therapy: During this treatment, strong energy beams such as X-rays and protons are used to kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: This treatment involves using drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be given in pill form, intravenously, or both.

Melanoma Treatment Recovery

If you have been diagnosed with melanoma or have any of the melanoma symptoms listed above, it is important to see a dermatologist to have your skin assessed and a treatment plan created. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, so it is important to diagnose and treat it as early as possible for the best results.

Contact Us Today

To learn more about melanoma and melanoma treatment options, contact our office today by calling 979-543-9933! Our team will be happy to assist you in scheduling your initial consultation, as well as answer any questions regarding treatment that you may have.