Melanoma is a very serious form of cancer that affects the cells that produce melanin. These cells are known as melanocytes, and they are what give your skin pigment. Although very rare, melanoma also can form on the eyes or certain internal organs. This cancer can be treated successfully, but early detection is key. Knowing the warning signs is important in order to catch it before it spreads.
How It’s Diagnosed
Trained professionals can often recognize melanoma on sight. That being said, the only way to get an official diagnosis is through a biopsy. A biopsy requires either part or all of the suspicious growth, often a mole, being removed. It is then sent to a lab for diagnosis.
To detect melanoma, there are different types of biopsies that are commonly done. Which type of biopsy is best for the situation will depend on a number of factors. Whenever possible, removing the entire suspicious growth is ideal. This may be hard to accomplish, though, due to the size or location of the growth.
Determining the Stage
When someone is determined to have melanoma, one crucial step is to find out how far it has progressed. The thickness of the melanoma will be established. This is done using a tool known as a micrometer. Generally speaking, the thicker the tumor, the more severe the cancer is.
The next thing that will need to be determined is whether or not the cancer has spread. This is commonly determined using a sentinel node biopsy. If these tests come back negative, there is a good chance that the cancer did not have time to spread.
There are four stages of melanoma, from I to IV. Stage I is very small and has great odds of successful treatment. The higher the stage, the smaller the odds of recovery are.
If you are interested in learning more about melanoma and how it is diagnosed, as well as treated, make an appointment at Lakeside Dermatology. We are happy to answer any questions you have during a meeting at our office in Sebring or Winter Haven. Contact us today to book a dermatology appointment.