Recognizing Melanoma Skin Cancer

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer often classified as the most serious kind. If allowed to grow, it can spread rapidly to other parts of the body which can be deadly. But melanoma is highly treatable when found early. It is important, especially if you have a family history of melanoma, to know what signs to look for so you can catch any early signs of this cancer. Dr. Ness at Fargo Center for Dermatology works diligently to educate her patients on what symptoms to look for in order to be proactive in melanoma treatment.

What is Melanoma Skin Cancer?

Melanoma is caused by ultraviolet (UV) light. These rays damage the DNA of cells and create cell growth that can form tumors on the skin. It usually occurs in the epidermis but can spread to other layers as well. This can result from sun exposure or tanning bed use.

What Does it Look Like?

Melanoma causes changes to your skin and creates new growth. This cancer can show up in the body in a variety of ways. Some of the symptoms you may notice are:

  • New spot or patch on the skin
  • Changes to a mole
  • Dark streak under a fingernail or toenail
  • Darker skin around a fingernail or toenail
  • A slowly growing patch of thick skin

Dr. Rachel Ness, along with other Dermatologists, encourages her patients to perform self-examinations and to know what to look out for so that we can catch melanoma early. If you have a family history of melanoma then you are at a higher risk for developing this type of cancer and should get checked regularly.

How is it Treated?

During a consultation with Dr. Ness, she will examine your skin to determine if the area in question is cancerous or not. A biopsy may be performed if it appears abnormal. There are various stages to melanoma depending on how much it has spread. If it is cancerous, surgical excision will be needed to remove the affected area. Dr. Ness will recommend the best method of treatment that will be personalized to your specific situation.

Keep an Eye on Your Skin

To prevent melanoma from forming it is important to protect your skin. This means that you should practice wearing a daily sunscreen to shield yourself from harsh UV rays as well as avoid tanning beds. Another important form of prevention is doing self-examinations and keeping track of any moles and their appearance. If any changes occur this could indicate cancer. If you have any questions on melanoma and what to look for, contact Dr. Rachel Ness at Fargo Center for Dermatology.