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Melanoma is cancer of melanocytes, the skin cells that produce the pigment responsible for skin color. Cancerous melanocytes will grow in number in a disorganized way, replacing and disrupting normal tissues and their functions.
Since melanoma begins on the skin’s surface where it is easy to see, it can be caught and treated early, when it’s curable. If it isn’t detected early, it will grow down under the skin, getting into the blood and lymphatic vessels and from there spread around the body. When melanoma metastasizes like this it becomes life-threatening.
Several risk factors make people more likely to get melanoma including:
The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to develop melanoma. However, anyone can develop melanoma. For this reason getting periodic skin exams can be life saving.
If any unusual moles are found during a full body skin exam, a biopsy will be taken and examined under a microscope.
If a biopsy reveals melanoma or another type of skin cancer, we will discuss treatment options. Treatment for skin cancer varies according to the type, location, extent, aggressiveness of the cancer, and the patient’s general health.
The goals of treatment for skin cancer are to remove all of the cancer, reduce the chance of recurrence, preserve healthy skin tissue, and minimize scarring after surgery.
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