Known as the most aggressive type of skin cancer, melanoma or cutaneous melanoma may be fatal if left untreated. Malignant (cancerous) melanoma often presents itself as a black or brown mole, but it can also be pink or tan in appearance. It originates in the pigmented cells (melanocytes) of the epidermis and is often caused by excessive sun exposure or ultraviolet light. When the melanocytes are damaged (from sun exposure), it causes a DNA mutation, which creates malignant tumors. If you have a mole that has grown or changed over time, call Legacy Dermatology to schedule a skin screening with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Dharamsi. During your consult, Dr. Dharamsi can examine your skin and perform a biopsy to determine if you have a cancerous melanoma.
It can be challenging to spot malignant skin cells when you may not know or understand what to watch out for. This is why it's crucial to meet with a board-certified dermatologist, like Dr. Dharamsi, to have your skin screened to map out moles and identify malignant skin cells as early as possible. Dr. Dharamsi will also educate you on signs to look out for with the ABCDE rules:
- A: Asymmetrical mole (one side is larger than the other)
- B: Borders on the mole (a malignant mole will not have a defined, smooth border)
- C: Color (a malignancy will be various colors throughout the mole)
- D: Diameter (benign moles usually stay small, but malignancies will start to spread out)
- E: Evolving (cancer cells in a malignant mole will keep evolving and changing the appearance of the skin)
Melanomas are known to be caused by genetics and excessive sun exposure. You are also at a higher risk of developing melanoma if your parent or family has a history of skin cancer. Your chances increase if you have:
- Blue, green, or gray eyes
- Light colored or red hair
- Routinely tanned in a tanning bed
- Excessive sun exposure (even if it did not lead to a sunburn)
Treatment for melanoma at Legacy Dermatology is based on the subtype of the malignancy, staging, size, location, and depth. Dr. Dharamsi's first step will be to perform a thorough full-body exam, perform a biopsy of any suspicious moles, blood work, and possibly take a PET or CT scan to determine a diagnosis. From there, she will review all your treatment options, which may include excision, Mohs surgery, electrodesiccation and curettage (ED&C), or topical chemotherapy cream (also see our non-melanoma page for more information regarding treatment).
What to Expect
The treatment process will look different for everyone, depending on the regimen selected by you and Dr. Dharamsi. You can rest assured that Dr. Dharamsi will take her time to review all your treatment options with you during a private consultation and discuss all the pros and cons of each treatment, including which one she thinks may be the best option for you and your needs. Our goal at Legacy Dermatology is to help you get the care you deserve in order to live a long, healthy life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Since melanoma begins as a mutation of the skin cells due to sun damage, we encourage our patients to take protective measures when spending extensive time out in direct sunlight. Wearing sunscreen, long-sleeved shirts, and sun hats can help protect your skin from harsh UV rays and decrease the chances of developing melanoma.
How often should I see a dermatologist?
We recommend that you see Dr. Dharamsi once a year for an exam. Keeping these appointments — in addition to self-exams at home — can help catch any abnormalities as early as possible, which can save your life.
Schedule An Exam
Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer that should be treated right away. Legacy Dermatology offers several treatment options, and we also inform our clients on the signs and symptoms of melanoma so they can understand what is normal and abnormal. If you think you may have skin cancer, have a family history of melanoma, or have never had a skin exam, we invite you to call Legacy Dermatology in Frisco, TX.