Located in Buckhead, East Cobb, Midtown, and serving the surrounding areas of Atlanta and Marietta, Dermatology Affiliates offers treatment for melanoma and other medical dermatology conditions requiring the assistance of a board-certified dermatologist.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is skin cancer that develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin, the pigment from which the skin gets its color. Melanoma is also occasionally found in the eyes and intestines. As the most serious of the three types of skin cancers (Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma comprising the other two), Melanoma accounts for four percent of all skin cancers. However, the severity of the disease is responsible for 79 percent of all skin cancer deaths.
Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma
Changes in existing moles are the most common symptoms showing that Melanoma may be present. Due to the commonality of this symptom, healthcare professionals have put together a symptom checklist, arranged in alphabetical order.
- Asymmetry. The two sides of the mole are not identical.
- Border. The border appears to be jagged or blurry.
- Color. The color has changed, or a lesion consists of more than one color.
- Diameter. The lesion exceeds a quarter of an inch all the way across (in diameter).
- Evolution. The lesion changes.
Other symptoms include itching, oozing and bleeding moles. Melanoma may develop on the surface of the skin, and not always start out as a mole.
Who Gets Melanoma?
Caucasians are more susceptible to contracting melanoma, due to the associated risk of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Fair-skinned people, and those who have experienced repeated sunburns are at greater risk of developing melanoma. Women commonly develop melanomas on their legs while men are mostly affected on the back and the back of the neck. Others who are at a higher risk include:
- Users of tanning beds
- Residents who live in high elevations
- People who live closer to the equator
- Those with a family history of melanoma
What Causes Melanoma to Develop?
Melanoma is commonly triggered by overexposure to the sun. However, melanomas do develop in areas not exposed to the sun. Normal skin cells become abnormal from too much UV radiation. The defective skin cells grow at a rapid rate and attack the tissue around them. Though everyone is at risk to develop melanoma, there are several factors that increase your risk. Risk factors include the number of moles, skin type, and family history of skin cancer.
Am I at High Risk to Develop Melanoma?
People at risk include those with a family history of melanoma. Also, individuals with fair skin and light -colored eyes (blue and green) are at a higher risk. Numerous flat moles also increase the risk.
Where Does Melanoma Usually Start?
Melanoma may start anywhere on the body. However, the most common beginning areas are the upper back and legs.
Your Family, Melanoma, and other skin cancers
Anyone related by blood to a melanoma patient is at a higher risk for developing the disease. Medical professionals recommend that family members of people with melanoma receive check-ups on a regular basis.
Suspicious marks on family members
Do you or a family member notice a suspicious mole or skin mark? If the answer is yes, then schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists to have the mole checked, along with the entire body. Most likely, the mole or mark will be removed and biopsied to determine if cancer exists.
About Your Skin Biopsy
Biopsies in our office are quick and common procedures. The standard procedure consists of shaving the suspicious mark to determine if it is cancerous.
What Happens After a Biopsy?
For benign (non-cancerous) results, the recommendation is to schedule annual full-body check-ups. If the biopsy screening is malignant (cancerous), we will discuss your results, and recommend your best course of action for treating melanoma. Due to cancer’s ability to spread, attention to melanoma treatment is critical.
About Your Melanoma Treatment
Treatment procedures depend on the extent of the melanoma diagnosis. All efforts will be for melanoma treatment on an outpatient basis.
Is Melanoma Treatment Painful?
Local anesthesia is typically administered to numb the treatment area. However, all procedure and anesthesia treatments will be discussed after the biopsy results.
What is the Cost of Melanoma Treatment?
Treatment costs vary according to the extent of the procedure. Our staff is happy to assist you in determining if your health insurance will cover a portion, or all of the treatment costs. Located in Buckhead, East Cobb, and Midtown, Dermatology Affiliates provides care for melanoma patients in and around the cities of Atlanta and Marietta. Our board-certified dermatologists and staff are equipped with cutting-edge technologies in medical dermatology. We utilize these technologies to provide our patients with optimal skin health, resulting in revitalized appearances and restored self-confidence. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, contact our helpful and friendly staff today.