Malignant melanoma, although not as prevalent as basal or squamous cell cancer, is more aggressive and requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. Untreated, melanoma may spread (metastasize) off the skin to lymph nodes and other organs and may even be fatal. Melanomas are usually pigmented and may appear as dark, flat or raised lesions. The pigmentation and border of the lesions are often irregular. Early melanomas usually do not present symptoms. Bleeding and pain may reflect more advanced, invasive lesions.
When malignant melanoma is clinically suspected, Dr. Lober will usually perform a biopsy to confirm this diagnosis. This biopsy either confirms the need to proceed with treatment when melanoma is present and also avoids unnecessary treatment should the suspicious lesion not be cancerous. When present, melanoma skin cancers are usually treated by surgical removal and microscopic examination of the margins to assure that the cancer has been completely removed. Depending upon factors such as how deeply invasive the melanoma is, further testing and treatment may be needed.
After diagnosing and treating malignant melanoma, Dr. Lober always recommends sun avoidance, the use of protective clothing, and the use of a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. This will help minimize the chance of your developing other lesions. If you have had one skin cancer, your lifetime risk of developing a second skin cancer is approximately 40%. Dr. Lober also recommends follow-up visits to his office so that any future premalignant lesions or skin cancers (including new or recurrent melanoma) can be detected early.