Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It is less common than the other two major types of skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas), but far more serious if not detected and treated early. Incidence rates for melanoma have been rising at an alarming rate over the last 40 years, and especially in men over the age of 65.
Melanoma may be preventable by avoiding excessive sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM and if planning a day outdoors by wearing SP30 sun block, a broad-brimmed hat, and comfortable long-sleeve clothing. As with avoiding skin-damaging ultraviolet rays from the sun, it is important not to use tanning beds. Following guidelines from the American Academy of Dermatology will not only improve the odds of not getting skin cancer and melanoma, but will also help keep your skin healthy into old age.
Early detection is the other critical component of surviving melanoma. Any mole that is new, growing, changing color, or larger than a pencil eraser, or that just concerns you, should prompt a visit with a dermatologist. Also, if you have many moles, your dermatologist will want to see you regularly. The best care comes from seeing a physician early, and we at Boston Medical Center make it easy for patients to schedule an appointment to be seen rapidly with minimal hassle.
The Melanoma Program at Boston Medical Center offers the full spectrum of services for early to advanced stages of the disease and employs a multidisciplinary approach involving dermatologists, specialized surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation therapists. The NCCN Guidelines for treatment based on stage of disease are fully supported at BMC. In addition, clinical trials of new agents or combinations of agents are offered to try to prevent recurrence and to treat metastatic disease. Melanoma molecular tests and genetic screening are being used routinely to help direct and personalize treatments.
Learn more about our Melanoma Program.