Melanoma, or Malignant Melanoma, is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. One out of every 70 individuals in the U.S. will develop melanoma in his or her lifetime. In the Winnebago-Boone county region, as many as 125 melanomas may be diagnosed each year. Fortunately, most melanomas are caught early and can be cured with surgical removal. However, each year approximately 7,500 Americans will die from melanoma that has spread from the skin to other sites in the body, such as the brain, lungs, or liver.
A melanoma is suspected whenever a mole or pigmented lesion appears to be changing in its color, shape, or size. The lesion is often irregular in shape, asymmetric, and composed of two or more colors.
Patient diagnosed with melanoma, even after surgical removal, should have regular visits with their dermatologist. In some cases, ongoing, regular visits with an oncologist (cancer specialist) will also be scheduled. It is extremely important for patients with melanoma to keep their follow-up visits and undergo regular evaluations of their skin.
Fortunately, newer targeted chemotherapy agents have recently been developed that offer hope for patients when the melanoma has spread (or metastasized) from the primary site in the skin to internal sites in the body.