Melanoma Diagnosis and Treatment in Peabody, MA
Melanoma is a unique type of cancer that most often affects the skin. Out of the several types of skin cancer that an individual may be diagnosed with, melanoma is particularly dangerous due to its rapid growth and development. If a person’s melanoma metastasizes (spreads to other areas of the body) then it can be especially difficult to treat.
The best solution to treating melanoma is to diagnose the condition as soon as possible by consulting with a professional at Internal Medicine Physicians of the North Shore. Our dermatology specialists are highly trained in diagnosing melanoma and, if necessary, can perform MOH’s surgery to remove an entire tumor while preserving the surrounding healthy tissue. Call (978) 531-7677 to request an appointment at our primary care office in Peabody, MA today!
Melanoma Symptoms and ABCDEs
Melanoma usually appears as a simple mole on the surface of the skin. This is a result of cancerous cell growth within the melanocytes, which are cells that produce and contain the skin’s pigment (skin color). This pigment is also known as melanin.
Unlike a normal mole, melanoma will continue to change its appearance over time. This can affect each person differently, making the ABCDEs a vital tool in the detection of melanoma for individuals of all skin types.
Cancerous skin cells are rarely symmetrical, meaning that they do not often develop into perfect circles. If a line is drawn directly down the middle of the mole and one side is noticeably larger than the other, it is likely cancerous in nature.
Harmless moles typically display a nice, even border around their outer edge. If this border line appears misshapen or sloppy, it is an indication that the skin spot could be melanoma.
Many individuals possess more than one mole across their body. The color of these spots can range from light to dark brown depending on the specific person, but should not vary widely in the coloring of one mole to another on the same person. Moles should also never include red, pink, black, or white tones since these colors signal the abnormal development of melanin in that particular area of the skin.
Any mole that is more than one fourth of an inch (6mm) in diameter should be considered suspicious. Cancerous skin cells often grow larger as they continue to develop and spread, whereas benign moles are more likely to stay the same size over long periods of time. Individuals can easily track the diameter of a suspicious mole or spot on the skin by outlining it with a marker over the course of 1-2 weeks to clearly identify any changes.
In addition to changing in size over time, skin cells affected by melanoma are also more likely to experience a variety of other changes as the cancer progresses. These changes can include differences in color, shape, elevation, or the introduction of new symptoms from the mole-like an itching or burning sensation.
Detection and Diagnosis of Melanoma
Sadly, not all cases of melanoma are easy to identify. This primarily depends on where the cancerous cell growth occurs, which may be hidden to the naked eye. Instances in which melanoma develops under a nail or inside the body where it is impossible to detect visually is referred to as hidden melanoma.
If the melanoma is visible, it is likely that your physician will take a small sample of the tissue to be thoroughly examined for the presence of cancer. A similar biopsy will also be performed for hidden melanoma cases in order to properly assess the abnormal tissue and whether or not it consists of cancerous cells. Hidden melanoma may also be first detected using multiple types of diagnostic imaging tests, including a CT scan, MRI, or PET scan.
Like all forms of cancer, the earlier the stage of the disease, the better the patient’s odds of beating it. Individuals involved in later stages of melanoma are more likely to have had the cancer spread to other areas of the body, making it that much more difficult to overcome.
Melanoma Treatment in Peabody, MA
No matter how aggressive a particular case of melanoma may be, the providers at Internal Medicine Physicians of the North Shore are willing to offer their full support and educated recommendations to assist patients in their cancer-fighting journey.
Individuals who are within earlier staging of melanoma are often able to have their abnormal skin tissue completely excised, or surgically removed. In some cases a full excision may even be achieved during the initial biopsy to examine the patient’s skin sample. At Internal Medicine Physicians of the North Shore, we provide advanced diagnostics and can perform in-office MOH’s surgery to remove an entire tumor while preserving the surrounding healthy tissue.
Other individuals may need to have a more significant amount of skin removed in order to clear away any cells that have the potential for cancer. These larger excisions may also require a skin graft to replace the eliminated skin tissue.
More Complex Treatment Options
If the melanoma has spread beyond the surface layer of the skin, then it is usually best to assess more considerable treatment methods to cure the individual of their cancer. Such methods are also commonly used to fight other forms of cancer, and they include:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Biological therapy
- Surgery for other areas of the body where cancer has been detected
Starting the Treatment Process with Internal Medicine Physicians of the North Shore
All of these solutions must be carefully evaluated by patients and their treatment specialist. Please call (978) 531-7677 today if you wish to speak with a provider at Internal Medicine Physicians of the North Shore about a potential or known case of melanoma and how you can treat it!