Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that spreads to other parts of your body. Once it metastasizes, it’s hard to treat. By comparison, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma rarely spread.
In most cases, melanoma begins in an existing mole. The top symptoms are changes in the size, shape, color, or texture of a mole. If it doesn’t originate in a mole, you may notice a new brown or black spot on your skin.
The first goal of melanoma treatment is removing the tumor. Dermatology and Aesthetics Center of Utah may perform:
Mohs surgery begins by carefully mapping the melanoma tumor. Then the team removes the tumor along with a small margin of tissue from around the edges. For the next step, they process the tissue into thin slices and view them under a microscope.
If they find any signs of cancer cells in the margin, they use the pre-surgery mapping to precisely identify the area. The Mohs surgeon then removes another 1-2mm piece of skin from that spot and check under the microscope again to confirm the edges are clear and the melanoma has been completely removed.
This meticulous process continues until no signs of cancer remain. The advantage of Mohs surgery is that it removes all the cancer while preserving the maximum amount of healthy skin.
If you’re not a good candidate for Mohs surgery, the team removes your melanoma using a wide excision. That means they cut out the tumor along with a small amount of the skin around the edges. The team examines the tissues to be sure they find no cancer cells along the edges. If cancer is still in the margin, the team excises another ring of tissue from around the site.
When diagnosed with melanoma at an early stage, you may only need surgery to remove the lesion. At a later stage, you may need immunotherapy or targeted drug therapy.
Immunotherapy uses medications that stimulate your immune system to destroy melanoma cells. Targeted therapy uses different medications that focus on specific parts of melanoma cells to stop the cancer from growing.
Some patients may need chemotherapy for advanced melanoma, but it’s usually only when other treatments fail.
If you notice changes in a mole or have questions about melanoma, call Dermatology and Aesthetics Center of Utah, or request an appointment online today.