Melanoma Skin Cancer Treatment
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers and can affect both men and women. Melanoma skin cancer is one type of skin cancer and is usually more serious. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma makes up only 2% of all skin cancers, but leads to the majority of deaths related to it.
Melanoma skin cancer rates have been rising for the last 30 years. It is most common in white or light skinned men and women and even though it usually affects patients around age 60, it has been found in patients age 30 or younger. Request more information on melanoma skin cancer: call or contact us online.
Melanoma Skin Cancer Symptoms
To find changes in your skin early, make sure to perform a self-examination every month. Watch for skin changes and don’t forget to look in those hard-to-reach places like between your toes, the soles of your feet and your scalp.
Ask someone to help you if you can’t see, and don’t forget to have a check by your healthcare provider regularly.
When you check your skin for melanoma, follow the A-B-C-D-E method:
- A – Asymmetry: Is the mole symmetrical in shape or does it have branches and uneven borders? Could you fold it in half and make it match?
- B – Border: Are the edges ragged, notched, blurred or irregular?
- C – Color: Look for different colors within a mole or lesion. Abnormal areas may be shades of black and brown and may even have areas of red, pink or blue.
- D – Diameter: Skin spots or moles larger than ¼ of an inch or the width of a pencil eraser should be checked. Keep in mind that skin cancer can be smaller, so keep an eye on anything new.
- E – Evolving: Report any mole that is changing in size, shape or color to your healthcare provider.
Risk Factors and Causes of Melanoma Skin Cancer
There are many possible risk factors and causes of melanoma skin cancer, including:
- Exposure to the sun’s UV rays
- Fair skin, freckles, light hair
- Family history of melanoma
- Moles on the body
- You have had melanoma before
- You are female
- You are age 60 or older (though it can happen in young adults too)
One of the best ways to prevent skin cancer is through sun protection. Wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day, don’t use tanning beds, cover your skin with light clothing and a hat. Above all: don’t let your skin get burned.
Watch your body for changes in your moles, freckles or skin. Report any changes to your provider and have regular skin cancer screenings as your provider recommends.
Melanoma Skin Cancer Treatment
To diagnose melanoma skin cancer, your doctor may ask questions about your health and risk factors and conduct a physical exam. They may also need to collect a sample of skin (biopsy) from the spot or spots and look at it under a microscope.
If it is cancer, your doctor may send you to a cancer specialist (oncologist) for extra tests to see how far the cancer has spread, if at all.
You may also need X-rays, MRI, CT or PET scans to look for areas where the cancer could have spread.
Once your cancer has been diagnosed and staged, you may need any variety of treatments including:
- Chemotherapy or targeted therapy
Most early skin cancers can be treated successfully with surgery. Advanced cancers will need extra treatments.
Melanoma Skin Cancer Survival Rates
Survival rates after a skin cancer diagnosis will vary greatly depending on how far advanced it was when it was found. This is called staging . Skin cancer is diagnosed as early (stage 1) to advanced (stage 4).
- 97% of patients with stage 1 skin cancer live 5 years after their diagnosis.
- 95% of patients with stage 1 skin cancer live 10 years after their diagnosis.
- 15%-20% of patients with stage 4 (the most advanced) skin cancer will live 5 years past diagnosis.
Melanoma Skin Cancer Support
Being diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer can be scary, you’re bound to have questions. If you can, take a trusted friend or family member along to your medical appointments. They can help you listen to your provider’s instructions and support you in your journey. Also, seek help and information from online and local support groups.
To request additional information about melanoma skin cancer call or contact us online.