Melanoma Cancer Screenings in MA & RI
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world. Every year, thousands of Americans are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer. Melanoma only accounts for 2% of diagnoses, but is the cause for the largest majority of skin cancer deaths, due to its severity and fast-growing nature. Melanoma can be treated successfully if it’s caught early enough with a melanoma skin cancer screening test. Here at Southcoast Health, we offer consultations and screening tests from our dermatologists to aid in early detection and treatment of melanoma.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that arises from the skin cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Melanoma cells can still produce melanin, which is what causes brown or black moles on the skin. Melanoma is rarer than other types of skin cancer, but it tends to spread quickly and accounts for almost all deaths from skin cancer.
Melanoma Cancer Risk Factors
Some people are more likely to develop melanoma due to certain personal & environmental risk factors, which include the following:
- Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure – this is the highest risk factor for any skin cancer. Sunlight is the main source of these rays, but they can also be found in tanning beds & sun lamps.
- Moles – moles are actually noncancerous tumors on the skin. The chance of a pre-existing mole turning cancerous is low, but those with many irregular or large moles have a higher risk for developing melanoma.
- Caucasian race
- Family or personal history of skin cancer
- Older age
- Weakened immune system
The rates for melanoma have unfortunately been rising in the past 30 years. It is currently unknown why, but the rates for diagnoses have been growing within the younger population. It is important to monitor any moles you have for changes over time, and always put on SPF before going outside. Remember: the sun’s UV rays are just as strong in the winter and on a cloudy day as they are in the middle of the summer. To be safe, always use sunscreen and take care of your skin all throughout the year.
When to See a Doctor for Melanoma
At your annual check-up, it’s important to go over any new moles that have appeared on your skin with your doctor, as well as any moles that have changed over time. You should schedule an appointment with your dermatologist if you find a mole that seems abnormal. When deciding whether or not your mole is a cause for concern, you should check for any unusual “ABCDE” factors:
- Border irregularity
- Color that is not uniform
- Diameter greater than 6 mm
- Evolving size, shape, or color
As a general rule, any mole that suddenly changes in appearance or size should be checked out as soon as possible.
Melanoma Screenings at Southcoast Health
At our locations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Southcoast Health offers the latest screening and treatment technology for melanoma skin cancer. Depending on your diagnosis of melanoma or other types of skin cancer, our doctors will work with you to come up with the best treatment plan for your needs.
We offer an extensive list of treatment options in MA and RI for skin cancer, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Schedule an appointment with a skin cancer specialist at one of our cancer care centers or contact us today for more information.