Once a melanoma has been confirmed, your doctor may also order CT (computed tomography) scans or other types of X-ray tests to determine if the cancer has spread.
The stage and location of the melanoma and your overall health will determine which type of treatment plan your doctor will recommend. If detected early, sometimes the removal of the affected area and surrounding tissues is all that is needed.
If the cancer has spread, patients may require surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Your doctor will discuss the treatment options with you, depending on the severity of the cancer.
Prevention of Melanoma
To identify melanomas early, the American Cancer Society recommends professional skin examinations every year for people older than 40. People between the ages of 20 and 40 years should get a skin examination every three years.
Routine self-examination is also recommended. You should examine your skin at least once a month, and contact your primary health care provider if you find any unusual changes in any moles or areas of skin.
Other steps that you can use to prevent or reduce your chances of melanomas include:
• Always avoid excessive exposure to the sun, especially between the peak hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Avoid using tanning beds or lamp devices.
• Always wear sunglasses to protect your eyes, because melanoma can occur in the pigmented area of the eyes.
• Always apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors to protect skin, and wear hats and protective clothing to protect against UV rays. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, especially if sweating.
• Routinely examine your skin for changes in moles.
• Always consult your doctor if you recognize any changes in your skin or a mole.
For more information on melanomas, visit the following websites:
National Cancer Institute: www.cancer.gov
American Academy of Dermatology: www.aad.org
The Skin Cancer Foundation: www.skincancer.org
Note: This article was originally published on April 18, 2011 on PharmacyTimes.com. It has been edited and republished by U.S. News.