What is Melanoma and How Is It Diagnosed?

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Although skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, we understand this diagnosis can seem overwhelming. The dermatologists at Clear Lake Dermatology offer our support to get your questions answered and connect you with the resources you need. If you are showing early signs of skin cancer, including melanoma symptoms, please contact our office in Webster or League City, TX, as soon as possible for an appointment. We can explain what causes melanoma and how to begin skin cancer treatment.

What is melanoma?

Melanoma begins in skin cells called melanocytes that produce melanin and give our skin color. Melanoma usually appears as a new mole or growth on the skin, or it can form from an existing mole. Unfortunately, melanoma is considered more dangerous than other kinds of cancers because of its ability to spread rapidly. Patients should seek an early diagnosis and treatment of melanoma if they want to prevent spreading.

What causes melanoma?

As with other skin cancer types, melanoma forms when skin cells become damaged and grow out of control. So, what causes melanoma to form in the first place? Doctors believe that some cancer forms because of exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. UV rays can also come from other sources, such as tanning beds and UV lamps.

Genetics and environment also play a part in melanoma development. Major risk factors include a personal or family history and the presence of large or numerous moles. The risk of skin cancer also increases for individuals who are sensitive to the sun and tend to burn more easily. This is why dermatologists recommend wearing a high-SPF sunscreen whenever you spend time outdoors.

How we diagnose skin cancer

If you notice a suspicious-looking spot on your skin, Clear Lake Dermatology will perform an examination and gather information about your health history. Based on this assessment, we may remove a portion of the lesion for further evaluation. A skin biopsy is important because it is the only way to determine the presence of melanoma with complete certainty. Once the results of the biopsy come in, your doctor in Webster or League City, TX can determine the appropriate course of care moving forward.

Skin cancer treatment options

After melanoma is diagnosed, skin cancer treatment must begin as soon as possible. The approach we recommend depends on your medical history, general health, and personal preferences. Our skin cancer experts are dedicated to helping people make the decision they are most comfortable with. However, it is important not to delay melanoma treatment for too long.

Your options may include:

  • Topical chemotherapy

  • Cryosurgery

  • Mohs surgery

  • Electrodesiccation and curettage

Advanced skin cancer may require:

  • Chemotherapy

  • Radiation

  • Retinoid therapy

  • Biologic therapy with Interferon

Learn about melanoma treatment

Melanoma cases have been on the rise for many different reasons. Genetics, increased sun exposure, and low awareness all play a role. While melanoma can be dangerous, new advancements in detection and treatment are making a huge impact. Patients who show early signs of skin cancer should schedule a skin cancer screening with Clear Lake Dermatology at their earliest convenience. Our compassionate team can offer education and resources about melanoma treatment in Webster and League City, TX.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.