Melanoma is the rarest form of skin cancer. However, there are other types of skin cancer that are less aggressive and more common. Regardless, for most people, even the word is scary. If you’re noticing changes in your skin, make an appointment with Sanjiv K. Saini, MD, at MD Dermatology & Laser Center — with offices in Gambrills, Edgewater, and Lexington Park, Maryland — to find out what’s going on.
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancers. It begins in the melanin — the cells that produce the pigment for your skin, hair, and eyes. Since melanoma can be seen on the skin, early detection and treatment are important. If left untreated, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body such as the liver, lungs, bones, and brain. Later stages of melanoma can be difficult to treat.
No. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer, but there are other types of skin cancer. However, melanoma is the most aggressive and fastest growing.
There are actually three basic categories of melanoma:
There are several factors that cause melanoma, but research reports that a majority of melanoma cases can be linked to ultraviolet light exposure from both natural sources like the sun, as well as artificial sources like tanning beds. Other factors that lead to a higher than normal risk factor for melanoma include:
If detected early — before the cancer reaches the lymph nodes — the average five-year survival rate is 98%. Dr. Saini recommends a variety of ways to catch melanoma in its earliest stages. Recommendations include:
Protecting yourself from exposure to ultraviolet light is one of the most effective ways to prevent melanoma. Specifically, you can: