Together, We Can Face Melanoma
While we spend a good deal of time talking about the cosmetic aspects of skin care these days, there remains a strong need to keep skin cancer will within our awareness. This type being the most common of all cancers has led us to talk about the importance of sun protection and the need to avoid tanning beds (and yet tanning salons still exist all over the country). This is a start, but we need to keep looking ahead.
The first reaction that often occurs when a spot or mole is confirmed as skin cancer is a shock. This shock, in far too many instances, it typically preceded by denial. This is how it may go . . . “That’s a mole, not growth.” “These spots are just a part of aging, not a sign of sun damage.” The mind likes order. It wants to protect us from the frightening thought that we may need to undergo some medical procedure or treatment. This urge to deny may be especially strong when the potential for melanoma is on the table.
We’ve Got to Face Facts
Denial is understandable, yes; acceptable, no. Melanoma is a very serious condition. Treated early, though, there is a very high chance for success, meaning a good prognosis for long-term health. The physicians in our Exton, Coatesville, and Kennett Square offices are trained to perform Mohs Micrographic surgery for various forms of skin cancer. This particular removal procedure has had a consistently high (over 98%) success rate since its development. With this information, patients may feel much more comfortable moving forward with the further evaluation of a new or changing growth. The sooner, the better.
The state of cancers is measured in stages. Skin cancer such as melanoma begins in the epidermis, the uppermost layer of skin tissue. When malignant melanoma cells are localized within an original surface growth, skin cancer is measured as Stage 0, or in situ. Now is the best time to remove the growth. Over time, malignant cells penetrate deeper beneath the skin, progressing to Stages I and II, but remain in the category of localized cancer. This means greater success in treatment.
The longer cancer cells live within the skin, the more likely they are to permeate lymphatic fluid. In particular, melanoma tumors are known to leak malignant cells into this fluid, sending them straight to the lymph nodes in closest proximity to the original growth. At this stage, success rate declines to about 60% - and that is with more aggressive treatment. When malignant cells have spread or metastasized, to organs through the lymphatic system, success rate further declines, hovering at approximately 18%.
We do not broach the subject of skin cancer to frighten any person, but to spread awareness that skin cancer screenings, both in the office and at home, are invaluable to long-term health. For more information on how to protect your skin, contact us.