All You Need to Know About Melanoma
Melanoma is a skin cancer type that begins in the cells that produce pigment in the skin. It is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, as it is likely to spread to other parts of the body. It can occur anywhere on the body, including areas not exposed to the sun. The most common risk factor for melanoma is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Early detection and treatment are crucial for successful treatment outcomes. This underscores the need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Chevy Chase melanoma.
Diagnosing melanoma typically involves a combination of a physical exam, a review of your medical history, and a biopsy of the suspicious tissue. If a suspicious mole or other lesion is identified, your doctor will likely perform a biopsy. A small sample of the questionable tissue is taken during a biopsy and sent to a lab for examination.
There are different types of biopsies, including a shave biopsy, punch biopsy, or excisional biopsy, and your doctor will determine which type is best for your situation.
The biopsy will be evaluated by a pathologist, who will examine the tissue under a microscope to determine if it is cancerous and, if so, what type of skin cancer it is. If the biopsy results indicate that the lesion is melanoma, further tests may be necessary to determine the stage of cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.
Additional tests may include imaging tests such as CT scans or PET scans, which can help determine the extent of cancer, as well as a sentinel lymph node biopsy, which can help determine if cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
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Melanoma treatment options
Here are some common treatment options for melanoma:
- Surgery: Surgery is the primary treatment for early-stage melanoma. The surgeon will remove the tumor along with a margin of healthy tissue to ensure that all cancer cells have been removed. If the melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes, the surgeon may also remove those nodes.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is typically used for melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy is usually administered intravenously.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs to stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells. Immunotherapy drugs include checkpoint inhibitors, which help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells, and interleukin-2, which boosts the activity of immune cells.
- Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is a treatment that uses drugs to target specific molecules that help cancer cells grow and divide. It is commonly used for advanced melanoma that has a specific genetic mutation.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It may be used to treat melanoma that has spread to the brain or other organs.
It is advisable to note that treatment for melanoma is often personalized, and a combination of treatments may be used to achieve the best possible outcome. Ali Hendi, MD can work with you to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.