What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a malignant skin cancer originating from the melanocytes. Melanocytes are cells that produce melanin, which is the pigment that gives skin color. There are 4 main types of melanoma: acral lentiginous, lentigo maligna, superficial spreading, and nodular. The most common type of melanoma is superficial spreading and the most aggressive is nodular. 

What  causes an melanoma?

Melanoma is like most other skin cancers and caused by UV rays that damage the skin. Patients that are at risk for developing melanoma have a history of unprotected/excessive UV exposure, weakened immune system, many moles, fair skin, history of skin cancer, and a family history of melanoma.

How to diagnose a melanoma?

When looking at a pigmented skin lesion we look at the ABCDEs to determine whether the lesion is possibly melanoma. We look for Asymmetry, irregular Borders, mix Colors, Diameter, Evolution, and Enlargement. Melanoma can also appear underneath the toe nail (subungual melanoma) and presents itself as a dark pigmented streak on the toenail that extends to the skin, called Hutchinson’s sign. A biopsy is typically done to examine the thickness (Breslow) and the level of  anatomic invasion (clark). After confirmation of melanoma with a biopsy, a PET scan is often done to detect metastases. 

How to treat Melanoma?

Local resection of melanoma with margins, sentinel node biopsy, lymph node dissection, chemotherapy and possible amputation are all done to treat melanoma depending on it’s stage. 

Video of biopsy of melanoma:

If you suspect you have a melanoma on your foot or ankle make an online appointment at: or call (949) 651-1202

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