Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that can be life-threatening. It’s caused by the uncontrolled growth of pigment cells in the skin, and it can occur anywhere on the body. If you have any of the early warning signs of this condition, it’s important to visit us at Premier Dermatology and Mohs Surgery of Atlanta in Alpharetta, GA to get checked out. When you find and treat this condition quickly, you have an excellent chance of a full recovery.
What Are the Early Warning Signs of Melanoma?
Early warning signs of melanoma especially include a new mole or a change in an existing mole. If you notice any of the following changes, please schedule an appointment with us right away:
- A mole that is larger than a pencil eraser
- A mole that changes in color, size, or shape
- A mole that bleeds or itches
- A sore that doesn’t heal
- A mole that feels odd, lumpy, or raised
- A mole that is darker than the surrounding skin
- A mole with irregular borders
What Is Melanoma?
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can be very serious. It happens when melanocytes (skin cells that make pigment) grow out of control. Melanocytes are found in the epidermis (outer layer of skin). They make melanin, which gives skin its color.
These issues can occur anywhere on the body, but it is most often found on the face, neck, chest, back, or legs. It can also occur in other places where there is skin, such as the palm of the hand or soles of the feet, and even in the mouth or eyes.
What Will Our Doctor Do?
If you have any of the early warning signs of skin cancer, our doctor will do a skin exam. During this exam, they will look at all of your skin to check for moles or other changes. They will also ask you about your medical history and any risk factors you may have for skin cancer.
If our doctor thinks you may have melanoma, they will do a biopsy. This is when they remove a small piece of tissue from the suspicious area and send it to a lab for testing. There are several different types of biopsies, but the most common is a shave biopsy.
After the biopsy, our doctor will get the results from the lab. If the tissue is cancerous, they will stage the cancer. Staging is a way to find out how far along the cancer is and if it has spread to other parts of the body. The stage of a cancer helps guide treatment decisions.
If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, our doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan. The type of treatment you have will depend on the stage of your cancer.
Why Is It Important to See a Doctor?
Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that can be deadly. Early detection is critical to a fast and successful treatment. If melanoma is not treated quickly, it can spread to other parts of the body and become very serious. If the cancer has spread, treatment options may be more limited.
What Are the Risk Factors for Melanoma?
There are several risk factors for this condition, including:
- A family history of skin cancer
- A personal history of skin cancer
- A large number of moles on the body
- Certain types of moles
- A history of sunburns, especially at a young age
- Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds
- A weakened immune system
If you have any of these risk factors, it is important to see a doctor for regular skin exams. These exams can help find issues early when they are most treatable. You can also take steps to reduce your risk of cancer by avoiding UV radiation and using sunscreen.
Ways to Protect Yourself
If you’re concerned about skin cancer, the two best things you can do are to protect yourself from the sun and see us regularly for checkups. However, you can also give your body the tools it needs to protect itself by making sure to eat a good diet.
A diet high in antioxidants is important for cancer prevention. Specifically, antioxidants help protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells, leading to cancer. Antioxidants help to neutralize these free radicals and prevent them from damaging cells.
There are many different types of antioxidants, and you can get them from a variety of sources. Some good sources of antioxidants include:
- Fruits and vegetables, especially dark-colored ones
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and lentils
- Herbs and spices, such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, and rosemary
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate
Including more antioxidant-rich foods in your diet is a great way to help reduce your risk of cancer in general. You can also take supplements if you feel like you’re not getting enough antioxidants from your diet. However, it’s always best to get nutrients from whole foods rather than supplements.
If you have any of these risk factors, it is important to see a doctor for regular skin exams. These exams can help find melanoma early when it is most treatable. Come see us at Premier Dermatology and Mohs Surgery of Atlanta in Alpharetta, GA right away so we can help!