If you are beginning to notice irregular skin growths or spots on the skin, it is vital to see a doctor as soon as possible to have them evaluated. If the doctor detects that they are cancerous or pre-cancerous, there are a number of options available for treatment depending on your specific case and progression. Dr. Dodde will discuss your options with you and help you feel comfortable with every step.
What is Melanoma?
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with Melanoma being the most deadly. However, skin cancer has a very high cure rate as long as it’s detected early. That’s why knowing the first signs of melanoma and your risk factors is so important to ensure that you’re treated right away. To help you remember the signs of melanoma, consider the ABCDE acronym:
Asymmetrical – when half of a mole looks different from the other
Border – a mole with an irregular or jagged border
Color – a mole that is red, black, or blue in color or is multiple different shades
Diameter – a mole that is larger than the size of a pencil eraser
Evolving – a mole that changes in any way
If you notice any signs of melanoma or if you have a new mole you’re unsure about, you should have it examined by a doctor right away. If you have fair skin, spend a lot of time outdoors or in the tanning bed, or have a personal or family history of skin cancer, you should have regular skin examinations to ensure the health of your skin.
Melanoma Prevention Tips
While genetics do play a role in the development of melanoma, there are certain environmental factors that put you at risk. To lower your chances of developing skin cancer, follow these tips:
Always apply sunscreen before going outdoors
Remember to reapply sunscreen as needed or after getting wet
If possible, avoid direct sunlight when the sun is at its highest
Avoid tanning beds
Don’t skip your regular skin examination
Here are some treatment options that Dr. Dodde may offer to treat your specific case:
Excisional Skin Surgery – This simple procedure is effective for most types of skin cancer. Dr. Dodde will numb the skin, and the cancerous tissue will be removed with a scalpel with a wide excision. This is the most common ways of removing skin cancer since it usually has the best cosmetic outcome.
Mohs Surgery – This type of excision surgery is for larger recurring cancer in areas where it’s important to preserve the skin. Dr. Dodde will shave the growth in thin layers, and then each layer is checked under a microscope for cancerous cells. This process is repeated until no more cancerous cells are found. This way, all cancer cells are removed but only a small amount of skin is removed.
Cryosurgery – Small cancerous moles can be removed using liquid nitrogen. Dr. Dodde will use liquid nitrogen directly on the skin to kill the cancerous cells. This treatment may cause swelling and may damage nerves, which can cause the treatment area to feel numb.
Topical Chemotherapy – Commonly, chemotherapy creams or lotions with anti-cancer agents can be applied to destroy superficial skin cancers. Side effects of these topical chemotherapy treatments may include redness, swelling, itching, and sensitive skin.