Melanoma is known as the most serious form of skin cancer. Through early detection and intervention, however, you can receive effective treatment and potentially make a full recovery. In Delray Beach, FL, you can rely on Feinstein Dermatology as a trusted name in skin cancer care and melanoma diagnosis and care.

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What Is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the cells that produce melanin. These are known as the melanocytes. Though less common, melanoma may also form in your eyes or internal organs. While melanoma can occur anywhere on the body, it is especially common in areas with frequent sun exposure. You can typically detect melanoma via the change in appearance of an existing mole or the development of a new pigmented area on your skin. It’s important to note an increased risk if a family member has had melanoma or if you have numerous moles on their skin.


What Are the Causes of Melanoma?

Although we don’t fully understand the precise cause of melanoma, it is widely perceived to result from exposure to UV rays through direct sunlight or tanning beds. Melanoma can affect men and women of all ages, and in fact, it is becoming more and more common among those under the age of 40. It is critical for you to know the warning signs of melanoma and to seek assessment and diagnosis as promptly as possible.

Melanoma Treatment

Your treatment journey will begin with a careful diagnosis. Your board-certified dermatologist can sometimes confirm the presence of skin cancer with merely an external evaluation, but an accurate diagnosis requires a biopsy. Following the biopsy, your dermatologist will determine the thickness of the melanoma and assess its spread throughout the body. Treatment usually involves the removal of the melanoma and a wide excision of the surrounding skin, followed by aesthetic repair.

Biopsy procedures used to diagnose melanoma include:

  • Punch biopsy. During a punch biopsy, your doctor uses a tool with a circular blade. The blade is pressed into the skin around a suspicious mole and a round piece of skin is removed.
  • Excisional biopsy. In this procedure, the entire mole or growth is removed along with a small border of normal-appearing skin.
  • Incisional biopsy. With an incisional biopsy, only the most irregular part of a mole or growth is taken for laboratory analysis.

The type of skin biopsy procedure you undergo will depend on your situation.


Tips for Managing Melanoma

The best thing you can do to minimize your melanoma risk is to practice sun safety by wearing proper protection all year long. Regular skin examinations, including both professional and self-evaluations, are also critical for early detection.


Meet Our Board-Certified Dermatology Team

At Feinstein Dermatology in Delray Beach, FL, our commitment is patient satisfaction and loyalty. We are defining the new standard in customer experience and outcomes, striving to lead by example for others to follow. With a dedicated patient base of over thirty-five thousand (35,000) individuals who have entrusted us with their dermatological and cosmetic needs, we have earned our reputation as a leading provider in the field.

Our team comprises dedicated professionals, including board-certified dermatologists, a board-certified Mohs surgeon, and a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon. We invite you to experience the exceptional care and dedication that defines Feinstein Dermatology.

LEADERS IN DERMATOLOGY & COSMETICS

Meet Your Providers

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Brian Feinstein, D.O., FAAD

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Thomas Cahn, M.D., FAAD

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Lawrence Enisman, M.D., FACS

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Meredith Hancock, M.D., FAAD

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Robb Wilentz, M.D.

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Nathalie Allison-Fecteau, PA-C

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Nicole Fernandez

Medical Aesthetician Learn More

Melanoma FAQ

Normal moles are generally uniform in color, such as tan, brown or black, and have a distinct border separating the mole from your surrounding skin. They’re oval or round and usually smaller than 1/4 inch (about 6 millimeters) in diameter — the size of a pencil eraser.

Most people have between 10 and 45 moles. Many of these develop by age 40, although moles may change in appearance over time — some may even disappear with age.

To help you identify characteristics of unusual moles that may indicate melanomas or other skin cancers, think of the letters A-B-C-D-E:

  • A is for asymmetrical shape. Look for moles with irregular shapes, such as two very different-looking halves.
  • B is for irregular border. Look for moles with irregular, notched or scalloped borders — characteristics of melanomas.
  • C is for changes in color. Look for growths that have many colors or an uneven distribution of color.
  • D is for diameter. Look for new growth in amole larger than 1/4 inch (about 6 millimeters).
  • E is for evolving. Look for changes over time, such as a mole that grows in size or that changes color or shape. Moles may also evolve to develop new signs and symptoms, such as new itchiness or bleeding.

Other suspicious changes in a mole may include:

  • Scaliness
  • Itching
  • Spreading of pigment from the mole into the surrounding skin
  • Oozing or bleeding

Cancerous (malignant) moles vary greatly in appearance. Some may show all of the changes listed above, while others may have only one or two unusual characteristics.

Melanomas can also develop in areas of your body that have little or no exposure to the sun, such as the spaces between your toes and on your palms, soles, scalp or genitals. These are sometimes referred to as hidden melanomas, because they occur in places most people wouldn’t think to check. When melanoma occurs in people with darker skin, it’s more likely to occur in a hidden area.

Hidden melanomas include:

  • Melanoma under a nail. Subungual melanoma is a rare form that occurs under a nail and can affect the hands or the feet. It’s more common in blacks and in other people with darker skin pigment. The first indication of a subungual melanoma is usually a brown or black discoloration that’s often mistaken for a bruise.
  • Melanoma in the mouth, digestive tract, urinary tract or vagina. Mucosal melanoma develops in the mucous membrane that lines the nose, mouth, esophagus, anus, urinary tract and vagina. Mucosal melanomas are especially difficult to detect because they can easily be mistaken for other, far more common conditions.
  • Melanoma in the eye. Eye melanoma, also called ocular melanoma, occurs in the uvea — the layer beneath the white of the eye (sclera). An eye melanoma may cause vision changes and may be diagnosed during an eye exam.

If you receive a diagnosis of melanoma, the next step is to determine the extent (stage) of the cancer. To assign a stage to your melanoma, Dr. Feinstein will:

  • Determine the thickness. The thickness of a melanoma is determined by carefully examining the melanoma under a microscope and measuring it with a special tool (micrometer). The thickness of a melanoma helps Dr. Feinstein decide on a treatment plan. In general, the thicker the tumor, the more serious the disease.
  • See if the melanoma has spread. To determine whether your melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes, your surgeon may use a procedure known as a sentinel node biopsy. During a sentinel node biopsy, a dye is injected in the area where your melanoma was removed. The dye flows to the nearby lymph nodes. The first lymph nodes to take up the dye are removed and tested for cancer cells. If these first lymph nodes (sentinel lymph nodes) are cancer-free, there’s a good chance that the melanoma has not spread beyond the area where it was first discovered. Cancer can still recur or spread, even if the sentinel lymph nodes are free of cancer.

Other factors may go into determining the aggressiveness of a melanoma, including whether the skin over the area has formed an open sore and how many dividing cancer cells are found when looking under a microscope.

Melanoma is staged using millimeter depths as a prognostic indicator. A stage I melanoma is small and has a very successful treatment rate. But the higher the number, the lower the chances of a full recovery. There are 5 stages in this system called Breslow’s Depth Indicator, ranging from stage I being less than or equal to 0.75mm to Stage V being greater than 3.0 mm with three other stages in between.


Feel Good About Your Skin

At Feinstein Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, we understand that your skin is more than just an organ; it reflects your well-being and confidence. Our dedicated team of board-certified dermatologists and skincare specialists is committed to guiding you on a transformative journey toward feeling fantastic in your own skin. With a personalized approach to dermatological and cosmetic care, we aspire to be your trusted partners for a lifetime of radiant, healthy skin. Take the next step towards embracing your confidence with advanced skincare solutions, cosmetic care, or skin cancer treatments in Delray Beach, FL. Schedule a consultation for melanoma treatment today at (561) 498-4407.