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Cancer of the skin is by far the most common of all cancers, but melanoma only accounts for about 1% of those diagnoses. While melanoma is uncommon, it is an extremely aggressive form of skin cancer.

Out of the three primary types of skin cancer, those diagnosed with melanoma will most likely have a treatment plan that includes the care and expertise of an SSM Health hematologist, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist. Your SSM Health Cancer Care team will work together with you, your dermatologist and primary care physician to personalize your treatment plan based on your medical condition.

Although melanoma can occur virtually anywhere on the skin, it is most frequently found on the backs of both men and women, the legs of women, and the head and neck. Because melanoma grows deep into the dermis it can invade the lymph and blood vessels. Typically, those with melanoma will require more extensive treatments than patients diagnosed with other forms of skin cancer.

Signs & Symptoms of Melanoma

Much like with any form of skin cancer, it is advised for you to check regularly for suspicious moles, freckles or other growths on the skin. Visiting an SSM Health dermatologist regularly is another way to stay on top of your skin’s health. If you’re seeing any of the below signs and symptoms, you will want to visit your primary care physician or dermatologist sooner.

When performing a self-examination, you should look for:

  • Noticeable changes in the skin
  • Irregularly shaped, dark brownish spots on the skin, sometimes with black areas
  • Moles that change color, size, texture and/or that bleeds
  • Firm, shiny dome-shaped bumps on the skin
  • Lesions with irregular borders and red, white, blue, gray or blue-black spots
  • Dark lesions beneath the toenails or fingernails, or on the palms, tips of fingers or other parts of the body

Treating Melanoma

SSM Health’s cancer specialists are dedicated to providing you personalized and effective treatment for your melanoma diagnosis. Treatment will ultimately depend on the size, stage and location of your cancer, but it may include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Removal of lymph nodes

Following Melanoma Treatment

After your initial treatment, routine screenings for additional forms of cancer will be necessary. Our doctors also encourage the consistent use of sunscreen when outdoors to protect your skin.

SSM Health is committed to your skin’s health. We’re here to provide you with the personalized, compassionate care you need, during a time that may seem uncertain. Whether you’re unsure about symptoms, have been recently diagnosed, or undergoing treatment, we have doctors ready for you every step of the way. Call an SSM Health physician today and discuss your next steps.

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