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Melanoma services offered in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Punta Gorda, FL

Some skin cancers are slow-growing and rarely spread, but melanoma could rapidly metastasize, putting your life at risk. If you have a mole or skin lesion that could be cancerous, visit one of the Associates in Dermatology offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, or Punta Gorda, Florida, for a prompt diagnosis. You can also attend regular checkups to identify melanoma at its earliest stage. Call your nearest Associates in Dermatology location or book an appointment online today for expert melanoma diagnosis and treatment.

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer. It develops in the melanocyte cells that produce melanin, a pigment that colors your skin. Melanomas can appear anywhere but are more likely to develop on your back, arms, legs, and face.

The first sign of melanoma is usually a change in an existing mole — an area of darkly pigmented cells. However, it may also present as a new or unusual-looking skin growth.

Melanomas may be asymmetrical (irregular rather than even-shaped growths) and have uneven, ragged borders. They can also change color or be a mix of colors.

Melanomas tend to grow over time, so if a mole exceeding a quarter-inch starts getting bigger, it could be cancerous. Other changes that could indicate melanoma include itching and bleeding. If you notice changes like these, visit Associates in Dermatology for an evaluation.

Why would I get melanoma?

Melanoma develops because of a genetic mutation in the melanocytes. Healthy skin cells have a limited life cycle, constantly growing and dying off as new cells develop. When you have a melanoma, the cells don’t die; they keep growing and multiplying, forming a cancerous mass.

The primary reason for this mutation is ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure from excessive time spent in the sun or on a tanning bed. But UV light doesn’t trigger all melanomas — they can also develop in areas that don’t receive any sun exposure. Risk factors for melanoma include:

  • Fair skin
  • Blond or red hair
  • Light-colored eyes
  • Freckles
  • Burning easily in the sun
  • History of severe, blistering sunburns
  • Family history of melanoma
  • Weakened immune system

You’re more likely to get melanoma if you have more than 50 ordinary moles or any unusual moles (dysplastic nevi).

What treatment do I need for melanoma?

Melanoma treatment typically involves removing the mass surgically. Your dermatologist may cut out the cancer and a border of healthy skin to ensure no stray cancer cells remain. Associates in Dermatology also offers Mohs surgery, an advanced procedure that causes minimal tissue damage and is often better for areas like the face.

If melanoma spreads beyond your skin, you’re likely to require further treatments. Options include:

  • Lymph node removal surgery
  • Immunotherapy drugs to boost your immune system
  • Drug therapy that targets cancer cell weaknesses
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy

You might benefit from one or more of these treatments before and/or after surgery.

Call Associates in Dermatology to arrange a melanoma evaluation, or book an appointment online today.