Dermatology, Cosmetic Surgery, Mohs Micrographic Skin Cancer Surgery & Laser Surgery

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Melanoma Monday

image courtesy of aad.org

What is Melanoma Monday? “Melanoma Monday” is observed on the first Monday of May and it is also termed as May Melanoma Skin Cancer Month. This day is also known as National Skin Self-Examination Day. People are advised and encouraged to undergo the examination of their skin for skin cancer. Of the different types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most deadly and accounts for about 75% of all skin cancer fatalities. Melanomas can also develop in other areas of the body such as the eye, underneath nails and inside the nose and mouth.

Melanoma Warning Signs: ABCDE

A – Asymmetry: is the mole asymmetrical? If you imagine a line drawn across the center of the mole, if the two halves do not match then they are considered asymmetrical.

B – Border: does the border or edge of the mole look uneven?

C – Color: is the mole one uniform color? If there are several colors or shades of a color within a mole this could be a warning sign.

D – Diameter: how big is the mole? Melanomas often have a diameter of 6mm (1/4inch) or more (diameter is the length across the mole).

E – Evolving: has the mole changed in shape, size or color? Have you noticed any other changes such as bleeding, itching or puss coming from the mole? These may be signs of a malignant mole so seek medical assistance.

Early Detection Is Crucial For Treatment Success
As with many other types of cancer, treatments are more successful when there is early detection. However, unlike most cancers, melanoma does normally not respond well to chemotherapy, radiotherapy or medication. When melanoma is at a later stage and has metastasized (spreading to other parts of the body), treatment options are limited and palliative care is the main course of action. Drug treatments for melanoma, when successful, do not provide a cure. They may extend life for a time measured in months not years. There will always be exceptions and some people with metastatic (stage 4) melanoma will live for many years after diagnosis. However, the prognosis for advanced melanoma is normally not good hence early detection is critical for success.

Dear 16-year-old Me

A great video about those who have been personally touched by Melanoma. Created by The David Cornfield Melanoma Fund. The video speaks for itself.

Melanoma Drug Breakthrough

Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States and worldwide. The incidence of melanoma in people under 30 is increasing faster than any other demographic group, soaring by 50% in young women since 1980. By regular skin cancer screenings Melanoma can be detected in its early stages and successfully removed. However, in later stages Melanoma can be deadly and until recently few treatment options were available. The New York Times reports that two new drugs have shown new promise to prolong lives of those with advanced melanoma. While it is not a cure for metastatic melanoma it may add several months to the expected lifespans of patients.

Trials recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine provide evidence that vemurafenib and ipilimumab improve survival rates of advanced melanoma patients by one attacking a specific genetic mutation and the other by unleashing the body’s immune system to fight the disease respectively. The manufactures of the two new drugs are planning trials to use the agents together and see if the combination will improve patient outcomes further.

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