Melanoma Awareness Month
Did you know that an estimated 73,870 new cases of invasive melanoma (skin cancer) will be diagnosed in the US in 2015? These numbers are on the rise and not limited to UV exposure. Other causes include family history and genetics. The best way to prevent melanoma is to be vigilant and aware of any skin changes on your body. If you develop any unusual skin growths have them examined as soon as possible. At Goodman Dermatology patients are examined from head to toe as melanoma can appear in places never exposed to UV rays or hidden from view. Make an appointment today for your examination – it’s better to be safe than sorry!
What is Melanoma and How is it Caused?
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It causes cancerous growths to develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers mutations that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. Melanoma begins in the cells that produce pigment that color our skin. Moles, brown spots, and growths on the skin are usually harmless but not always – melanoma kills an estimated 9,940 people in the U.S. annually. Current research indicates that family history, genetics and environmental factors such as ultraviolet (UV) ray exposure are the main causes of melanoma. Smart sun exposure prevention for the whole family, including: use of sunblock; avoiding peak sun hours; wearing hats, UV protective clothing and sunglasses; and never using a tanning bed are some of the best ways to prevent melanoma from developing.
How to Identify Melanoma
The first signs of cancer can appear in one or more atypical moles. That’s why it’s so important to recognize any changes of the moles on your body. Look for the “ABCDE” signs of melanoma, and if you see one or more, make an appointment at Goodman Dermatology for a thorough examination. The ABCDE melanoma signs are as follows:
A – Asymmetrical Shape. Melanoma lesions are often irregular, or not symmetrical in shape. Benign moles are usually symmetrical.
B – Border. Typically, non-cancerous moles have smooth, even borders. Melanoma lesions usually have irregular borders that are difficult to define.
C – Color. The presence of more than one color (blue, black, brown, tan, etc.) or the uneven distribution of color can sometimes be a warning sign of melanoma. Benign (non-cancerous) moles are usually a single shade of brown or tan.
D – Diameter. Melanoma lesions are often greater than 6 millimeters in diameter (approximately the size of a pencil eraser).
E – Evolution. The evolution of your mole(s) has become the most important factor to consider when it comes to diagnosing a melanoma. Knowing what is normal for YOU could save your life. If a mole has gone through recent changes in color and/or size, bring it to the attention of Dr. Marcus Goodman or one of our capable doctors at Goodman Dermatology immediately.
Types of Melanoma
There are three general categories of melanoma that affect various parts of the body.
Cutaneous Melanoma: Cancer of the skin is the most common type of melanoma. Approximately 90% of melanoma cases can be linked to the exposure of UV rays from both natural and artificial sources. The best ways to reduce your risk is to practice smart sun exposure activities for the whole family, including: use of sunblock; avoiding peak sun hours; wearing hats, UV protective clothing and sunglasses; and never using a tanning bed.
Mucosal Melanoma: Mucosal melanoma is a rare form of melanoma which affects the mucous membranes. It comprises only about 1% of melanoma cases. Approximately 50% of mucosal melanomas begin in the mouth, nasal passages, throat and neck region; 25% begin in the rectal region; and 20% begin in the female genital tract. The remaining 5% include the esophagus, gallbladder, bowel, conjunctiva and urethra. Mucosal melanoma often goes misdiagnosed, primarily because of the anatomical location of the disease and lack of discernible signs and symptoms.
Ocular Melanoma: Occurs around the eyes. Because most eye melanomas form in the part of the eye you can’t see when looking in a mirror, they can be difficult to detect. In addition, eye melanoma typically doesn’t cause early signs or symptoms. Most melanomas are detected during a routine eye exam. That’s why it is so important to see your ophthalmologist regularly.
Goodman Dermatology is one of the few dermatologists in the Alpharetta and north Atlanta area to use the Dermoscopy technique to diagnose changes in pigmented skin lesions help identify if the skin lesion is malignant or benign. It is a noninvasive method that identifies specific diagnostic patterns related to the distribution of colors and dermoscopy structures. If melanoma has been diagnosed, the first step is to remove the melanoma using a standard surgical method known as surgical excision. Surgical excision not only removes the melanoma but includes the borders/margins around the excised area. Surgery has made great advances in the past decade, and much less tissue is removed than was customary in the past. Patients do well after resection (melanoma and margin removal) surgery because it is easier to tolerate and produces a much smaller scar.
If you detect a lesion on your skin or a mole that has changed that looks suspicious don’t wait! Call Goodman Dermatology at 770/754-0787 or go online at our Patient Portal to schedule an examination. Goodman Dermatology is conveniently located in Roswell, GA serving patients from all over Atlanta and North Georgia including Alpharetta, Cumming, Marietta, Sandy Springs, Milton, Johns Creek, Duluth, Suwanee, and Dunwoody.