Malignant Melanoma

Malignant Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. Anyone can get melanoma. When found early and treated, the cure rate is nearly 100%. Allowed to grow, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma can spread quickly. When melanoma spreads, it can be deadly.

The number of deaths from melanoma would be much lower if people take the time to look at the moles on your skin because this is a good way to find melanoma early. When checking your skin, you should look for the ABCDEs of melanoma.

A. Asymmetry — one half does not match the other

B. Border — edges are ragged or blurred

C. Color — uneven shades of brown, black, tan, red, white or blue

D. Diameter — a change in size (usually greater than 6mm, about the size of a pencil’s eraser)

E. Elevation

How is Melanoma Treated?

The type of treatment a patient receives depends on its depth (which is determined based on the initial biopsy) and whether lymph nodes and/or other organs are involved.

Excision: In general, this is an in office surgical procedure. It involves numbing the area to be treated and cutting out any remaining tumor plus some normal-looking skin around the tumor. The specimen is examined again under microscope to ensure that the margins are clear and the entire tumor has been removed.

Lymphadenectomy (Sentinel Node Biopsy): This is surgery to remove lymph nodes and is performed by a surgical oncologist.

Immunotherapy/Chemotherapy: Help the patient’s immune system fight the cancer. The newer drugs such as Yervoy® and Zelboraf ® have dramatically improved the treatment of metastatic melanoma.

Outcome

This depends on how deeply the melanoma has grown into the skin. If the melanoma is properly treated when it is in the top layer of skin, the cure rate is nearly 100%. If the melanoma has grown deeper into the skin or spread, the patient may die.

Do you have any questions about Malignant Melanoma? If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our dermatologists in our Los Alamitos or Agoura Hills office, please contact us for a consultation.