There are so many different types of cancers, all with their own level of severity. Melanoma, for instance, is the most dangerous of skin cancers.
Here to tell us more about the deadliest form of skin cancer and what you need to know in order to prevent and catch it early is our very own founder, Dr. Jorge Garcia-Zuazaga.
About Dr. Garcia-Zuazaga
Some people fight with cancer hand-to-hand, others sit on the sidelines and wait until cancer comes to them before attacking and taking it down. Dr. Garcia Zuazaga is the latter.
He is one of the very few doctors in the state of Ohio who is trained in a specific form of skin cancer removal called Mohs Micrographic Surgery.
With over 20,000 cases completed, a 98% success rate, and numerous awards including Top Doc again for 2020, it’s no wonder patients flock to him for their skin cancer needs.
Here’s what he has to say about melanoma and its dangers.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can be deadly if not diagnosed early. It is the fifth most common cancer in men and the sixth most common cancer in women.
“About 7,000 people are expected to die of melanoma in 2020.”
What does Melanoma look like?
Melanoma usually looks like a “beauty mark”, a freckle, or a regular mole. It can be brown or black or flesh-colored.
It usually is “flat” (not raised) and usually asymptomatic.
Where can you get it?
Melanoma can be found anywhere on the body. As a general rule, men have it on the back or abdomen, while women get it most commonly on the legs. However, melanoma can also grow on the skin (palms, soles, mouth, genitalia, retina).
Is important to get an annual skin check by a dermatologist. You can even take advantage of our SPOTCheck where we guarantee an appointment within 24-hours to any patient with a suspicious lesion.
Who gets Melanoma?
Anyone can get melanoma. Melanoma is the leading cause of cancer deaths among younger women (Ages 15-30). The Caucasian population is at greater risk but we see melanoma in all races.
How common is melanoma?
In the US there are about 100,000 cases of melanoma diagnosed every year.
What does melanoma feel like / what are the symptoms?
Most melanomas are asymptomatic.
Sometimes there are early signs such as bleeding, crusting of the mole or changing in color/size. If this happens to you, get checked ASAP.
As a general rule, if a mole growth makes you pause and wonder about it, it’s worth getting it checked out. You can even get an appointment in as little as 24 hours with our SPOTcheck program.
What should I look for?
We recommend that patients do a self-skin exam and look for any new spots or changing moles.
We use the “ABCDE’s of Melanoma” to teach patients what to look for:
A – Asymmetry (one-half different than the other)
B – Borders (irregular)
C – Color (different colors within the same mole, brown/black/grey)
D – Diameter over 6mm (greater than a pencil eraser)
E – Evolving (anything that is changing – getting bigger, changing color, developing crust, etc).
How is melanoma treated?
To make the diagnosis, a simple procedure called a skin biopsy is done in order to sample the area. This is done in the office, under local anesthesia. It’s quick and simple and there are no restrictions after the procedure.
Melanoma is treated with surgery. Sometimes, if the melanoma is aggressive, the patient needs more advanced treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation and lymph node biopsies to further evaluate if it has spread to other tissues.
The good news is that if melanoma is caught early, there is a 95% five-year survival. Most melanomas in the US are discovered in the early stages and patients usually have a good prognosis.
How do I prevent Melanoma?
We recommend a skin check every year, use sun protection (SPF 30 or above) and do a self skin exam.
Check our website for a quick test to see if you are at risk for skin cancer.
Remember our SPOT Check program that guarantees an appointment within 24 hours for any new or changing skin lesion. Be skin smart!
Any time of year, but especially before you go out and spend excessive time outside this spring and summer, it’s important to have your skin checked regularly.
Apex offices are now open and TeleDerm appointments are also available!