What is melanoma?
Melanoma is the deadliest type of common skin cancer. Although melanoma accounts for less than 5% of all skin cancer diagnoses, it causes most of the deaths related to skin cancer. As with other common types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, exposure to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds is considered the major cause of melanoma. It is also more common among people with a family history of the disease and who have many or irregular moles.
What signs and symptoms does melanoma produce?
In their later stages, melanomas and other skin cancers can produce different signs and symptoms, including changes in color, size, or shape, as well as bleeding and pain. However, in their early stages, when they are most curable, skin cancers commonly have no symptoms, and their significant features may only be recognized by a highly knowledgeable dermatologic provider. Thus, patients who are at increased risk of developing skin cancers should have regular exams, ideally every six months but at least once a year, by a thorough and experienced professional.
What is a skin cancer screening?
A skin cancer screening is a head-to-toe visual exam of the skin performed to look for any abnormalities, including unusual textures, colors, or growths. Because melanoma and other skin cancers can occur anywhere on the body, the entire skin surface including the scalp and other areas that don’t receive direct sun exposure are evaluated during a skin cancer screening.
If an abnormal lesion is detected, a small sample or biopsy is collected for evaluation in a lab. A local anesthetic is used before the biopsy which can be performed right in the office. A skin cancer screening is quick and easy and is the most important thing a person can do to reduce his or her risk of developing advanced skin cancer and death. Dr. Shore’s skin cancer screening program has the distinction of having the best results reported in the world medical literature – 100% survival for over a quarter century.