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Skin Cancer & Melanoma

Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that starts in the pigment producing skin cells. Melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin. If not detected at an early stage, melanoma can spread (metastasize) through the blood or lymph system to other organs.

A personal or familial history of melanoma will increase your risk of having a melanoma. In addition, people that had excessive sun exposure, blistering sun burn, tanning bed use and fair skin are at increased risk for melanoma. Melanoma often appears as a mole and tends to be larger than a pencil eraser, uneven in color, asymmetrical, and ragged around the border. Melanoma may remain only in the skin or it may spread through the blood or lymph system to other organs and bones. Any change in a mole should be assessed by your physician. Suspicious lesions need a biopsy (small piece of the lesion is removed in the office) and examined under the microscope to establish the diagnosis and plan additional treatment.

Surgical removal of the melanoma is the most effective available treatment. It is important to diagnose the tumor’s spread to the lymph glands early and the sentinel lymph node biopsy technique is a minimally invasive way to do so. If the melanoma had spread to the regional lymph nodes or other organs, radiation therapy, systemic chemotherapy or more recently immunotherapy and targeted therapy are used in combination with surgery.

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The clinical team at Virginia Hospital center provides expert treatment for all the stages of melanoma.

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