Melanoma and Our Houston Sun

General Dermatology Houston TXThere are certain phrases you don’t want to hear:

“My mother is going to move in with us for awhile.”

“It’s going to be a cool 98 degrees all week.”

“The boss wants to see you in his office, now.”

“That growth on your face, it’s melanoma.”

Hearing the “M” word when it comes to your skin is scary, and it’s something to take very seriously. But if you see Dr. Kronberg once yearly and have her check your skin, even a diagnosis of melanoma usually is easily addressed and the odds of successful treatment very high.

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is the rarest, but most serious, form of skin cancer. Despite its deadly reputation, many people don’t really know what melanoma is. Melanoma usually appears as a black or brown asymmetrical spot on the neck, back, or face, but it can occur anywhere on the body. And it doesn’t occur only on areas where you have sun exposure.

What’s so dangerous about melanoma?

Unlike the other forms of skin cancer — basil cell and squamous cell carcinomas that are slow growing and easy to head off — melanomas grow downward. As they grow, they can eventually reach a vein or artery, where they can deposit cancer cells into the bloodstream. From there they can end up anywhere. This is how melanoma kills, when it creates tumors away from the actual growth you can see.

Who’s at risk for melanoma?

Anyone can develop a melanoma, but certain traits/characteristics make a person more vulnerable:

If you:

  • Spend or have spent a lot of time in the sun or in tanning beds
  • Were often sunburned as a child
  • Have a family history of melanoma
  • Have had melanoma before
  • Have fair skin, light eyes, or many freckles
  • Have any abnormal-looking moles or moles that have changed in appearance
  • Have more than 50 moles

Treating melanoma

Dr. Kronberg has extensive experience spotting and treating melanoma. Treatment involves surgically removing the cancerous growth, along with a certain amount of the surrounding healthy skin. The idea is to test this healthy skin moving away from the melanoma growth until it no longer shows any cancerous cells. There are also advances in treatment, drugs, and surgery so that dealing with melanoma creates less scarring today than it has at any time in the past.

If you notice a mole that has changed shape or color, or any other suspicious growths on your skin, please come see Dr. Kronberg and have her check it out. Early diagnosis of all skin cancer is the key to successful treatment. Call us at (713) 771-8941 to make an appointment.

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