MELANOMA

Melanoma is a cancer of the pigment producing cells in the skin, known as melanocytes. These cells produces melanin, the brown pigment responsible for skin color. When these cells start to grow without limit, in a disorganized fashion, disrupting and invading normal tissues, they are said to be cancerous.

Causes:

– Excessive sun exposure
– UV radiation used in indoor tanning equipment
– Inherited/ Genetic causes
– Atypical moles
– Fair skinned people are more predisposed

What You Can Do

Avoiding sun exposure and using sun protection is of utmost importance.
Examining your skin regularly helps identifying abnormal lesions. Look for the following elements (ABCDE)

A: asymmetry
B: borders; irregular, poorly defined
C: color; varied (can be brown, black, red, white or even skin-colored)
D: diameter; usually >6mm (size of a pencil eraser)
E: evolving; a mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.

Early detection of melanoma can significantly reduce both mortality and morbidity. Hence periodic Physician-Directed Total Body Skin Exam (TBSE) as well as patient education, are key to early detection. Patients can also be trained by their dermatologist to perform self screening, also known as Patient Skin Self- Examination (SSE).

What We Can Do For You

Early detection is key! A quick look from our dermatologist can confirm whether the lesion is suspicious for melanoma or not. If so, a biopsy is done just by numbing the area with local anesthesia, a quick procedure that is done in the clinic. If melanoma is diagnosed, then treatment is guided by how deep the lesion is. Removing this lesion and some surrounding skin (margin) is usually done to make sure no melanoma is left behind.

Early melanoma: limited to the outermost layer of the skin; also known as melanoma is situ.
Cure rate is 100% with surgical removal.

Deeper melanoma: could reach a blood vessel or lymphatic channel. The latter is responsible for cleaning the tissues of the body. Testing the surrounding lymph nodes for involvement depends on how deep the melanoma is in the skin. This is called sentinel lymph node biopsy. If positive, then the involved lymph nodes will be excised as well.

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