Schedule your skin cancer screening today.
Melanoma Experts Serving Greensboro, NC
Melanoma is one of the most dangerous and insidious types of skin cancer. It begins in the pigment-producing cells called melanocytes, which determine the color of your skin, hair, and even your eyes. When these cells multiply out of control, melanoma develops, invading other areas of the skin and soft tissues.
Even though only about 1% of all skin cancer diagnoses are melanoma, this form has a higher mortality rate than all the others combined. That’s why it is so vital for people of all ages and skin colors to learn about melanoma’s signs and symptoms and to have any changes in their skin examined by a board-certified dermatologist.
Our dermatology team is here to answer your most frequently asked questions about melanoma. If you don’t see your question below, contact us directly!
Melanoma, like all forms of skin cancer, is caused by damage to the DNA in your skin cells. This damage almost always comes in the form of UV rays from sun exposure or tanning beds. When the DNA is altered, skin cells can start to grow uncontrollably, and that’s when melanoma forms.
Melanoma is a skin cancer that forms specifically in the pigment-producing cells of your skin. Other forms, like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, may occur in other layers of the skin.
Melanoma is especially dangerous because it can spread throughout the body rapidly. Other forms of skin cancer tend to be much more slow-moving. But if melanoma isn’t caught in its early stages, it can quickly metastasize (spread to other organs).
Melanoma has four main types, which vary in terms of where they start, how quickly they grow, and what they look like.
- Superficial spreading melanoma: the most common form, which can appear anywhere on the body. This type of melanoma usually appears as a new skin lesion or growth of an existing mole. It will look like a flat, asymmetrical patch of discolored skin, which may be smooth or raised slightly and have uneven borders.
- Nodular melanoma: the most aggressive form, accounting for 10%–15% of all cases. This type of melanoma most often appears on the arms, legs, or torso. It usually presents as a new growth, which will grow deeper and more rapidly than other types of melanoma.
- Lentigo maligna melanoma: the slowest growing form, most often developing in people over 40. This type of melanoma is usually a dark brown, tan, or black patch that looks blotchy with uneven borders. It most often forms on the face, ears, and upper torso.
- Acral lentiginous melanoma: the most common form affecting African Americans. This type of melanoma is often difficult to spot because it appears in places like the soles of the feet, palms of the hands, or under the nails. It appears as a dark brown or black patch with uneven pigment.
No, melanoma is not always fatal: if found early enough, the initial surgery cures most people. Generally, melanoma has a 5-year survival rate of 93%. However, if left long enough for it to spread to the lymph nodes, that rate drops to about 68%. That’s why sun protection and regular skin cancer screenings are crucial aspects of your health!
Follow the ABCDEs of skin cancer when you’re examining your skin to detect the earliest signs of melanoma. If you notice any of the following signs, schedule an appointment to have a dermatologist examine your skin:
- Asymmetry: if you draw a line through the middle of the spot or mole on your skin, the halves should match; if they don’t, the spot is asymmetrical.
- Border: Be suspicious of any moles or spots with irregular, scalloped, or faded borders.
- Color: Investigate for spots with inconsistent colors that shift between shades of tan, brown, red, black, dark brown, or blue.
- Diameter: Melanomas are typically larger than 6mm or just shy of ¼” (the size of a pencil eraser).
- Evolving: Watch for any moles or skin growths that are changing over time or that look different from other spots on your body.
Itching can be a sign of melanoma, particularly in existing moles. Skin lesions caused by melanoma can also itch, ooze, or bleed. If you notice any of these signs, contact a dermatologist as soon as possible
Not sure what to look for when it comes to melanoma? Take a look at our photo gallery to see examples of how this skin cancer can appear on the body. If you have any uncertainties at all about a spot or growth, please get in touch with our team today!
Melanoma Skin Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment in Greensboro, NC
If you have a concerning mole, spot, or sore that isn’t healing, contact Brassfield Dermatology for a consultation as soon as possible. And if it’s been over a year since your last skin cancer screening, now is the time to get current.
At Brassfield Dermatology, our board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sean McCarthy and his team are highly experienced in diagnosing and treating all forms of skin cancer. To schedule your consultation and screening, call (336) 900-1525 or request an appointment online.