Knowing We Have Treated Over 100,000 Patients and Over 30 Years of Experience
Melanoma is the third most common skin cancer in the United States. Melanoma arises from pigment cells, called melanocytes, that give us our skin color and are located in the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin). Although melanoma usually occurs in sun-damaged skin, it may occur anywhere on the body. Our physicians offer advanced treatment of melanoma and are proud to have been the first laboratory in Northern California to introduce Mart-I stains. These stains have revolutionized the treatment of melanoma allowing our physicians to treat over 130 melanomas annually.
Although melanoma most often remains confined to the skin for some time, it may eventually spread via lymph or blood vessels. In some cases, melanoma may metastasize (spread) to local lymph nodes, distant tissues or organs.
Excessive exposure to sunlight is the most common cause of melanoma. Family history of melanoma and family genetics also play a significant role in ones likelihood of developing melanoma.
Anyone with a history of frequent sun exposure can develop melanoma, but people who have fair skin, light hair or light eyes are at highest risk. Those who occupations require long hours in the outdoors or who spend extensive leisure time in the sun are in particular jeopardy. Anyone with a personal or family history of melanoma is more likely to develop melanoma.
The prognosis of melanoma depends on variables that are unique in each case. The most important variable is thickness - thick melanomas are more dangerous than thin melanomas because they have greater access to vessels that may act as vehicles for metastasis (spreading). Knowledge of melanoma thickness allows the surgeon to educate patients on their prognosis and guides the formulation of an optimal treatment plan in each unique case. Some melanomas develop in pre existing moles. Recognizing the early warning signs of melanoma requires skin examination and an understanding of the ABCDs of mole examination. Below is an introduction to the ABCD's:
We add an "E" to the "ABCD's" of mole examination to include Evolution. If a mole changes in any way (lighter, darker, larger, smaller, shape, development of symptoms such as itching or pain), it should be evaluated by a dermatologist.