MELANOMA

The most dangerous form of skin cancer, these cancerous growths develop when damaged skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. Melanomas often resemble moles; some develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn), especially in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease.

Treatment Options

BIOPSY

A biopsy is a small sampling of the skin tissue. The area is numbed with local anesthetic and then a small piece of tissue is removed. Depending on the type of biopsy taken, sometimes sutures are required. Once proven by biopsy to be A Malignant Melanoma, there are several treatment options, depending on the depth and type of Malignant Melanoma.

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EXCISIONAL SURGERY

In most cases, the surgery for early, thin melanomas can be done in the doctor’s office or as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. Stitches (sutures) remain in place for one to two weeks, and most patients are advised to avoid heavy exercise during this time. Scars are usually small and improve over time.

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MOHS MICROGRAPHIC SURGERY

In recent years, Mohs Micrographic Surgery, which many physicians consider the most effective technique for removing basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas (the two most common skin cancers), is being increasingly used as an alternative to standard excision for certain melanomas. In this technique, performed in stages, one layer of tissue is removed at a time, and as each layer is removed, its margins are studied under the microscope for the presence of cancer cells. If the margins are cancer-free, the surgery is ended.

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