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Desert West Surgery

Minimally Invasive Surgeons & Surgical Oncologists located in Las Vegas, NV

New cases of melanoma have increased every year for the last 10 years. At the same time, death rates have fallen thanks to better awareness about watching for changes in moles. The doctors at Desert West Surgery have extensive experience identifying melanoma at its earliest stage, then surgically removing it before it spreads and becomes deadly. If you notice a change in a mole or you see a new skin lesion, call one of the three offices in Las Vegas, Nevada, or schedule an appointment online.

Melanoma Q & A

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer but is the most dangerous. When melanoma is detected and treated at an early stage, it’s curable. But if it’s not caught early, it spreads, becomes hard to treat, and can lead to death.

Your risk for melanoma depends on certain variables, such as your amount of unprotected sun exposure, skin type, the number of moles on your skin, and whether you have a family history of skin cancer.

What symptoms develop if I have melanoma?

Melanoma often begins as a benign mole that undergoes cellular changes and becomes malignant. However, it can appear as a new lesion that’s flat or slightly raised and resembles a mole. You’re most likely to develop melanoma on the areas of your body frequently exposed to sunlight, such as your arms and face.

One uncommon type of melanoma, acral lentiginous melanoma, is an exception. It appears as a black or brown discoloration under your nails, on your palms, or on the soles of your feet.

How can I identify melanoma at an early stage?

The key to identifying melanoma early is to routinely look at your moles and see if they’ve changed. Moles seldom change their appearance, so any deviation from normal is suspicious.

Examine your moles once a month, looking for the ABCDE signs that signal a cancerous change:

  • Asymmetry: one half of the mole doesn’t match the other half
  • Border: borders should be even, not irregular or poorly defined
  • Color: normal moles are one color; precancerous or malignant moles may contain a mix of tan, brown, black, blue, red, and white
  • Diameter: moles should be smaller than a pencil eraser
  • Evolving: the mole’s appearance has changed

If you notice any changes in a mole or a new lesion resembling a mole, call Desert West Surgery to have it examined.

How is melanoma treated?

Your doctor at Desert West Surgery treats melanoma by cutting out the lesion together with a small amount of the tissue around the margins. The entire sample is sent to a lab and examined to determine whether all the cancerous cells were removed or whether it may have spread beyond the treated area.

If your melanoma has spread, your doctor performs additional surgery to remove more tissue and lymph nodes. You may also need to receive chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or biological therapy to boost your immune system.

If you discover a change in a lesion on your skin, call Desert West Surgery or book an appointment online.