Melanoma is an aggressive, potentially life-threatening cancer. It develops when normal pigment-producing skin cells begin to grow uncontrollably and start to invade surrounding tissues. Typically, only one melanoma develops at a time. It can start both in heavily pigmented tissues, such as a mole or birthmark, and in normally pigmented skin. It commonly appears first on extremities, chest, or back, although it can also occasionally occur on the palm of the hand; on the sole of the feet; under a fingernail or toenail; in the mucus linings of the mouth, vagina, or anus; and even in the eye.
Melanoma is usually curable if treated early. It progresses faster than other types of skin cancer and can spread beyond the skin to affect numerous parts of the body, including the bones and brain. Once this happens, melanoma becomes very difficult to treat.
Moles are dark growths composed of pigment cells on the skin that are typically formed due to a genetic pre-disposition towards them or because of sun exposure. Many moles are not a medical threat; however, some lesions may result in melanoma skin cancer. These higher-risk moles are irregularly shaped, have dark or light discoloration and will change size, shape, and color. Additionally, if any of the moles begin to bleed, ooze, itch, or become tender or painful, it is necessary to have it checked.
For people aged above 40, is important to have regular checkups with a doctor to screen for melanoma. If the decision is made to remove and analyze a mole, Garrott Dermatology uses modern techniques to minimize scarring and achieve the best cosmetic result.
Remember, if a mole does not change over time, there is little reason to be concerned. But if you see any signs of change in an existing mole, if you have a new mole, or if you want a mole to be removed for cosmetic reasons, contact us.
Congenital nevi are moles that appear at birth. They occur in about 1% of all people and may be more likely to develop into melanoma (cancer). A mole or freckle should be checked if it has a diameter of more than a pencil eraser or any characteristics of the ABCDEs of melanoma:
Dysplastic nevi are moles that are irregular in shape and larger than average (larger than a pencil eraser). They tend to have uneven color with dark brown centers and lighter, uneven edges. Any changes in a mole should be checked by one of our dermatologist to evaluate for skin cancer.