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Melanoma is an aggressive type of skin cancer, but represents only 5% of
these types of cancers. It originates in melanocytes, which produce skin
pigment. It may form on normal skin, or develop in a preexisting
mole, and can spread to lymph nodes and other organs.
Rarely do melanomas appear in the mouth, iris of the eye, or retina at the back of the eye. However, in such cases, they may be found during routine dental or eye examinations. Although very rare, melanoma also can develop in the vagina, esophagus, anus, urinary tract, and small intestine. The vast majority of melanomas, however, are seen in sun-exposed areas of the skin.
There are a number of different risk factors for melanoma, including sun exposure and family history. The risk of developing melanoma increases with age. However, it is also frequently seen in young people.
You are more likely to develop melanoma if you:
Other risk factors include:
A mole, sore, lump, or growth on the skin can be a sign of melanoma or other skin cancer. A sore or growth that bleeds, or changes in skin coloring may also be a sign of skin cancer. The ABCDE system can help you remember possible symptoms of melanoma:
The key to successfully treating melanoma is recognizing symptoms early. You might not notice a small spot if you don't look carefully. Have yearly body checks by a dermatologist, and examine your skin once a month. Use a hand mirror to check hard-to-see places. Call your doctor if you notice anything unusual.
The key to successfully treating melanoma is recognizing symptoms early. You might not notice a small spot if you don't look carefully. Have yearly body checks by a dermatologist and examine your skin once a month. Use a hand mirror to check hard-to-see places. Call your doctor if you notice anything unusual.
Throughout the year, Northside hosts skin cancer screenings for the community. Screenings take place in a private setting and consist of a brief skin assessment by a medical professional. Typically, only exposed areas such as your arms, hands, neck and feet will be examined. Recommended screening attire: Shorts and T-shirt. Screenings are open to adults and children.
Skin cancer screenings are not intended to take the place of comprehensive skin exams. For a more in-depth examination, please schedule an appointment with your dermatologist.
Northside Hospital’s skin cancer screenings are free, but registration is required. Please call (404) 531-4444 to schedule an appointment.
While melanoma is a particularly aggressive form of cancer, it is treatable when caught early. Your doctor will check your skin and look at the size, shape, color, and texture of any suspicious areas. If your doctor thinks you might have skin cancer or a melanoma, a biopsy will be performed to remove all or part of the growth. If the biopsy confirms melanoma, a much more aggressive operation will be necessary.
A sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy may be done in some people with melanoma to see if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes. Once melanoma has been diagnosed, CT scans or other types of X-ray tests may be done to see if the cancer has spread.