Melanoma is cancer of the pigmented cells found in a mole. Melanoma is thought to be due to genetics, excessive sun exposure, tanning booths, and sunburns. Melanoma diagnosis is made through a surgical biopsy or excision of the skin that is done by your dermatologist.
The prognosis and treatment of melanoma depend on the type of melanoma, depth of the lesion, and whether has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs. This year there has been an exciting breakthrough with gene testing of the melanoma. The gene testing can be done even if you were diagnosed with melanoma a few years ago. The genes can determine if the melanoma is at risk to spread through the body. This is important because more close follow up can now be done on those people who have melanoma with this specific pattern of genes. We offer this new important testing by CastleRock in our office and it is covered by insurance.
It is also important to have close follow up and regular skin exams with your dermatologist after the diagnosis of melanoma. The recommendations include a full body check every 3 months for 2 years, every 6 months for 5 years and every year thereafter.
Finally, because melanoma can be hereditary, please inform all of your relatives you have had it (including cousins) and encourage them to have their skin checked by a dermatologist.