Melanoma Treatment & Surgery
If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. The first step in treatment is the removal of the melanoma. It is recommended that the procedure is done in a sterile environment. That being said, in some cases of thin melanoma, our surgeons can remove the suspicious mole with an in-office excision under local anesthesia. If the melanoma is persistent and very aggressive our doctors may refer you to other forms of treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy.
- UVA and UVB Rays: Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn). Blistering sunburns increase your risk of getting melanoma. Tanning beds/booths are especially known to increase your odds of being affected by this cancer as they expose your body to tremendous amounts of UV rays. Those who are genetically predisposed to the disease are also at a higher risk.
- Moles: Moles can be atypical and can be precursors to melanoma. Even regular moles, if present in large quantities can increase your risk for melanoma.
- Personal History: If you’ve already had melanoma or you have a history of carcinomas you run an increased chance of recurrence. Similarly, if a first degree relative is diagnosed with melanoma, you are in a melanoma-prone family and may want to examine your skin monthly to avoid having anything go unnoticed. Also, a compromised immune system for whatever reason is likely to increase your risk.
Melanomas often resemble moles; some even develop from moles.
- Color: The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white.
- Shape: if you notice a mole that you think may be atypical, draw a line through this mole. if the two halves do not match, it is asymmetrical. If the mole is benign, the mole’s border will appear smooth. Melanoma will present itself with uneven borders and edges. Any changes in size, shape, color, elevation, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting constitutes as a warning sign for melanoma and clinical examination is advised.
- Location: The melanoma can be found almost anywhere on the body, but is most likely to occur on the trunk in men, the legs in women, and the upper back in both.
- Acral-lentiginous melanoma while rare, can affect the spaces between your toes, the palms of your hand, the soles of your feet, your scalp or your genitals. can also develop melanoma.
- Mucosal melanoma develops in the mucous membrane that lines the nose, mouth, esophagus, anus, urinary tract and vagina. Mucosal melanomas are especially difficult to detect because they can easily be mistaken for other far more common conditions.
- Ocular melanoma affects the eye and can result in blurry vision. this type is most commonly diagnosed through an eye exam
- These are sometimes referred to as hidden melanomas because they occur in places most people wouldn’t think to check. When melanoma occurs in people with darker skin, it’s more likely to occur in a hidden area.
Joshua D.I. Ellenhorn
Joshua D.I. Ellenhorn, MD is a leading expert in Surgical Oncology, specializing in the surgical treatment of cancer. He is Clinical Professor of Surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Adjunct Professor at the John Wayne Cancer Center. A Senior Partner in the Surgery Group of Los Angeles, Dr. Ellenhorn is ranked by US News & World Report among the top 1% of Surgeons in the United States and ranked as a Super Doctor in Los Angeles. He is a medical educator, having trained over 60 surgical oncologists. A nationally recognized leader in surgery, surgical education, and cancer research, Dr. Ellenhorn is dedicated to providing the highest quality of surgical care with an emphasis on a personalized approach to the individual patient.