Malignant melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. The true cause of melanoma is unclear but exposure to UV rays (ultraviolet) develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin. We find that most melanomas begin in the area close to a mole or dark spot on the skin. More than 70% of melanomas begin on or near an existing mole or dark spot on the skin. It is rare but melanoma can begin in the eyes, in the mouth, in the genital area or in internal organs. Melanoma can be treated successfully when detected early. In the advanced stage, melanoma can spread to other body parts and can be life threatening.
Risk factors include those with fair skin, a history of sunburns, being prone to developing moles, having atypical moles and a family history of melanoma. Anyone can get a melanoma. Melanomas tend to occur in the sun-exposed areas of fair skinned individuals. With darker complexions, melanoma can occur on the hands, feet, or under the nails. Very rarely, melanoma can even begin in the eyes, in the mouth, in the genital area or in internal organs.
Having a semi-annual or annual skin exam with your dermatologist can be life saving. You should also conduct regular self- examination. Be on the look out for asymmetry in a mole or spot, uneven borders, presence of color variations, a growth about the size of a #2 pencil eraser or any changes in a mole or spot. If you notice any of these, call Chelsea Skin & Laser to schedule your appointment as soon as possible.