Melanoma Specialist

Association Of South Bay Surgeons -  - General Surgeon

Association Of South Bay Surgeons

General Surgeons & Breast Cancer Surgeons located in Torrance, CA

Melanoma is a serious and potentially deadly kind of skin cancer, but there is hope. The surgeons at Association of South Bay Surgeons in Torrance, California, check irregular moles, diagnose melanoma, and provide effective treatments like excisional skin biopsy when they're needed.

Melanoma Q & A

What’s a malignant melanoma? 

Melanoma is a type of aggressive skin cancer. This type of cancer comes from cells which produce skin color. The cause of this skin cancer is likely from overexposure to the sun and its powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays. The damage from overexposure to the sun can lead to moles or skin changes. Not all moles are cancerous, but those with unusual characteristics may indicate melanoma. It is highly recommended to get your skin checked regularly especially if you are under the sun a lot or frequent the tanning salon.

Why do malignant melanomas develop?

The cause of malignant melanoma is the uncontrolled expansion of the melanocytes, the pigment cells of the skin. Studies suggest that UV radiation is a major contributor to this melanocyte growth. Both sun exposure and tanning beds may cause melanomas. UV radiation damages the DNA within the cells, and this results in mutations in the genes. As the rapid cellular division occurs, those mutations are transmitted to new sets of cells. Soon, the growth rate can be uncontrollable, resulting in tumors.

What are the symptoms of melanoma?

Usually there are no symptoms associated with melanoma until late stages of the disease.

How are malignant melanomas diagnosed?

Only a doctor can diagnose malignant melanomas. A malignant melanoma is typically asymmetrical, has an irregular border, has more than 1 color, and is more than 6 mm in size. Patients should also keep a close watch on wounds as they heal, because slow-healing lesions may indicate melanoma. The doctor performs both a visual exam and another type of skin exam, such as a dermatoscopic exam. Growths that are suspected to be malignant melanomas are typically biopsied.

Treatment of melanoma

The treatment of this disease usually requires a team of physicians such as a dermatologist, oncologist, and surgeon. However, once diagnosed with melanoma the only cure is complete resection. This will require a wide resection around the melanoma skin site. Also, melanoma travels from the original location to other locations in the body through lymph nodes. If the melanoma is deep enough on the skin it may be necessary to check and remove several surrounding lymph nodes to see if the melanoma has not spread.

Other treatments

Aside from surgery, other medical treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation therapy may play a supporting role.    

How is melanoma surgery done?

This will depend on the location of the melanoma and whether or not lymph nodes will need to be taken. Also at times if the site of the melanoma is on the face or is large a plastic surgeon may be needed for reconstruction.

What’s the recovery from melanoma surgery?

For the majority of patients with skin melanoma, patients usually return home 2-3 hours after surgery. Select few may require an overnight stay in the hospital depending on if or how many lymph nodes are taken and how large the skin resection is. Most patients have mild surgery incision site pain lasting 3-5 days and usually resume full physical activity within 2-3 weeks.