What You Need to Know About Melanoma Skin Cancer
Most people are familiar with skin cancer to some extent; however, it is not uncommon to underestimate the potential severity of the disease. While less common, melanoma skin cancer, the most dangerous, is the type of cancer most likely to metastasize (grow and spread throughout the body.) At Tru-Skin Dermatology, we believe in educating our patients in the Austin and Central Texas area, so that you can be armed with all the information you need to cope with or simply learn about melanoma. (For more information about melanoma or dermatological issues in general, we recommend listening to Daniel J. Ladd, DO’s radio show with his wife Lurleen, “The Dr. Dan Show,” which airs each Sunday at 11 a.m. on KLBJ 590 AM and 99.7 FM.)
What is Melanoma Skin Cancer?
Cancer begins when the body’s cells multiply uncontrollably, and since cells in virtually every part of the body can become cancerous, it can spread almost everywhere. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, with cancerous growths that start to develop due to unrepaired DNA damage in the skin cells, which can trigger genetic defects. These, in turn, can cause the cells to multiply rapidly and become malignant tumors. Melanoma starts in the melanocytes (skin cells that produce pigment), which means it can develop anywhere on the skin, but most often begin in the trunk for men or legs in women.
What Causes Melanoma?
The sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays play a major role in melanoma risk factors. UV rays can also be found in tanning beds, which can cause DNA damage due to the excessive exposure—although it may take years before the cancer appears. It is not uncommon for children to be exposed to the sun for prolonged periods of time but not develop melanoma for many years. It may also, in some cases, be caused by hereditary issues. (For example, melanoma has been known to appear on body parts that receive little sunlight, and gene mutations that increase the risk of melanoma can be handed down to the next generation.)
Who Can Get Melanoma?
People of all ages can get melanoma skin cancer; however, risk factors and the chance of developing melanoma are more likely to develop in people of lighter skin, since melanin helps to block UV rays to a degree. Overall, people who are at a higher risk to develop melanoma or skin damage from the sun are:
- Blonde-haired people with blue eyes
- People with excessive freckles
- Those who burn before tanning
- People with fairer skin and blue or green eyes
If you are uncertain if you are at risk for developing melanoma, we recommend you make use of one of our free skin cancer screenings, held throughout the year in different Central Texas locations, including Austin. As the Center for Excellence within the area, we are the gold standard for early melanoma diagnosis. We use epi-luminescent dermoscopy and digital photography to evaluate your suspicious moles, and fully evaluate your family and medical history to provide an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis. Call us today for more information.
How Do You Treat Melanoma?
If you are suffering from melanoma skin cancer symptoms (such as moles that suddenly change, sores that do not heal, or the spread of pigment), schedule an appointment immediately at one of our convenient Tru-Skin Dermatology locations. We will run a full body skin exam and conduct an in-depth examination to determine if you have the disease. In the event you do, we offer various different treatment options, the majority of which are surgical. Of course, we will create an individualized plan dependent on your current situation and the stage of your melanoma.
Options range from Mohs surgery (the most advanced and highly effective skin cancer surgery currently available) to skin biopsies, curettage, surgical excision, freezing, and much more. Each has varying rates of success as well as different advantages and drawbacks. A new, promising treatment involves melanoma vaccines, which may help treat advanced melanoma.
We invite you to stay up to date on our social media pages for the latest information about relevant skincare, or to sign up for our newsletter. No matter the stage of melanoma, we recommend speaking with a team member for more detailed information.
Whether you or a loved one are suffering from melanoma skin cancer, our team of experts at Tru-Skin Dermatology is here to assist you in your journey. To schedule an appointment, just give us a call at (512) 451-0139. We look forward to hearing from you.