One type of skin cancer is melanoma, which is typically induced by DNA changes from excessive exposure to UV rays. People who discover mysterious moles or asymmetrical marks on their skin are urged to visit a dermatologist as soon as possible to be tested for melanoma. While it is an incredibly dangerous cancer, if caught early on, it can be treated quite effectively. Here's what you should know about the diagnosis and treatment of melanoma.
When you head to a dermatologist's office to have a mole or other skin mark checked, there's a series of steps that they'll go through first. You'll need to provide information on your family background, for starters, plus your own personal health. If you or any of your family members have a history of cancer, make sure to mention this.
From there, your dermatologist will listen to your concerns and take a close look at the mark you're concerned about. They'll first confirm that it isn't something else that can cause skin conditions, or even a minor, benign mole. If they suspect that it could be melanoma, they'll take a tissue biopsy. This essentially removes a tiny portion of the mole or mark and is sent to a lab for testing. By looking at the cells, the lab will be able to determine if the concern is cancerous or not.
If the tested skin is discovered to be cancerous or precancerous, your dermatologist will recommend the removal of the mark or mole. This can typically be done in the dermatologist's office.
Your dermatologist will thoroughly cleanse the area and will then inject a small amount of numbing solution that will prevent you from feeling pain while the area in question is removed. Once the tissue is removed, stitches may be used to close up the area if it's large enough. If not, a bandage and care at home should be enough for you to fully recover.
With the area removed, your dermatologist will have it tested once more to help ensure that they got everything.
If your melanoma is particularly advanced, having it surgically removed in a hospital may be necessary. In this instance, chemotherapy or radiation is also often recommended, as it's capable of killing stray cancer cells that may have drifted into other areas of your body. The duration of your treatment will depend upon your diagnosis. Your dermatologist will work with a cancer doctor to determine what's best for you and how to tackle the situation.
If you need skin cancer treatments, visit a dermatologist.