Melanoma — a rare, but deadly form of skin cancer — kills more than 10,000 men, women, and children a year in the U.S. alone. When you notice a mole that’s changing shape, size, or color, immediately call Dr. Lisa Hitchins at Dermatology Center of Northwest Houston in Cypress, Texas for diagnosis and treatment, if necessary. Whether you think you may have skin cancer or are at risk for melanoma because of age or family history, contact the warm and supportive staff at Dermatology Center for a skin cancer screening, or book an appointment online.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Luckily, it only accounts for 1% of all skin cancer cases. Melanoma is a fast-growing cancer that metastasizes to your other organs if you don't receive treatment promptly. However, if you catch and treat melanoma early, the five-year survival rate is 98%.
Melanoma lesions usually appear on areas of your body that were exposed to UVA and UVB rays from sunlight or a tanning bed. Melanoma that has a genetic component or is caused by other environmental factors can appear anywhere on your body.
Melanoma can affect any skin color or type, but you’re more likely to develop melanoma if you have fair skin. You’re also more at risk if you have a family member who had melanoma.
Other risk factors for melanoma include:
Children who come from a family with a history of melanoma are at particular risk for developing melanoma early in life. Dr. Hitchins recommends twice-yearly skin cancer screenings for at-risk children ages 10 and up.
You should examine your skin head to toe every month, looking for suspicious lesions. Check your moles and brown spots for the ABCDEs of melanoma:
A — asymmetric (the two sides of the mole don’t match)
B — borders are uneven, scalloped, or notched
C — colors that vary in tone, hue, and shade (different shades of brown and black, blue, red, or white)
D — diameter larger than a pencil eraser (may be smaller when first discovered)
E — evolving shape, color, elevation, or size; bleeding, itching, crusting, or other changes (benign moles don’t change)
When Dr. Hitchins diagnoses melanoma, she removes the lesion surgically in an in-office procedure with local anesthesia. To reduce recurrence, she may also recommend:
Don’t wait if you notice a suspicious mole on yourself or your child. Contact Dr. Hitchins by phone or use the convenient online booking agent to schedule a melanoma screening.