According to the Pennsylvania Medical Society, melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and may appear on the skin suddenly without warning. If detected early, however, melanoma and other skin cancers are highly treatable, the society said.
May is Melanoma Awareness Month, and Boiling Springs Family Medicine physician Dr. Chad Jumper answered some questions about melanoma, its signs and available treatment options.
Q: What are the signs of melanoma?
A: “The signs of melanoma can be classified into the letters A, B, C, D and E: asymmetry, one part of a mole may look different than the rest; bleeding/border irregularity, an uneven or jagged edge; color, there may be different colors in the mole or the mole may change colors; diameter, larger than a pencil eraser or changes in size; evolution, general changes in size, color or shape over time.”
Q: What area of the body is the most common for melanoma to develop?
A: “Melanoma can occur on any part of the skin but most commonly occurs on areas that are exposed to the sun: the back, chest, lower legs, face and scalp.”
Q: Who is at higher risk of developing melanoma?
A: “Caucasians with lighter skin are at highest risk. A personal history of any skin cancer, a family history of melanoma (parents, sibling, children, aunts, uncles), tanning bed use, and having many moles can also increase your risk.”
Q: What happens if melanoma is left undiagnosed and untreated?
A: “If left undiagnosed and untreated, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. This significantly increases the risk of death.”
Q: What are the treatment options for melanoma?
A: “Treatment options depend on the severity of melanoma and if it has spread to other parts of the body. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and treatments using the body’s immune system are all forms of treatment used.”