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Melanoma in Austin, TX

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About Melanoma

Melanoma is the least common but most aggressive and dangerous type of skin cancer. If it not caught early, it can be fatal. For this reason, it is important to have moles examined annually, particularly if they are unusual or changing or if you have a personal or family history of melanoma. At Snyder Dermatology, led by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Renee Snyder, we examine moles to ensure they are healthy. Melanoma generally begins with a mole (either existing or new) that has changed and shows signs of irregularity. In most patients, this means the mole has become very dark in color, has irregular borders, has begun to grow in size, itch, or bleed.

How does melanoma form? Melanocytes (pigmented cells in the epidermis) may turn malignant when exposed to sun or ultraviolet light that causes DNA damage to the cells.  This DNA damage allows cells to mutate and grow rapidly, creating melanoma. Some people may also have an inherited predisposition for melanoma, making DNA damage from UV light particularly dangerous. Because the vast majority of melanomas can be seen on the skin, consistent mole checks and self-exams are very important to aid in early diagnosis and treatment. Call Snyder Dermatology today to schedule your mole check and skin examination.

Those at Risk

Melanomas can affect both men and women and are thought to be mostly caused by genetics and sun exposure. A history melanoma in a primary relative (parent, sibling, or child) increases your risk of developing this malignancy. In addition, your chances of developing a melanoma increase if you have:

  • Many moles on your body
  • Multiple large moles
  • Tanned in a tanning bed
  • Experienced multiple or severe sunburns
  • Blue, green, or gray eyes
  • Light colored or red hair
  • Excessive sun exposure (even if it did not lead to a sunburn)

If you have moles on your skin, it is important to understand which ones may be at risk for developing into melanoma. Generally, melanoma starts with an atypical mole. This means the mole looks "different" than most others. It may be new, dark or black, have an irregular border, or start to change. Atypical moles can be removed and ongoing mole checks will help catch any potential problem quickly.

Presenting Symptoms

Malignant lesions can be challenging to recognize, especially to the untrained eye. Having regular skin cancer screenings by a trained, board-certified dermatologist is essential. We educate our patients on the presenting symptoms of melanoma with the ABCDE rule. These are the signs to look for in moles that may signal the lesion is concerning and include:

  • A: Asymmetrical mole (one side is larger than the other, not round or oval in shape)
  • B: Borders on the mole (a malignant mole will not have a defined, smooth border)
  • C: Color (a malignancy will be various colors throughout the mole or very dark)
  • D: Diameter (benign moles usually stay small — moles larger than a pencil eraser are concerning)
  • E: Evolving (cancer cells in a malignant mole will keep changing and growing)

While some benign moles or freckles may have some of these characteristics, you should always make an appointment with your dermatologist to have spots with these concerning features examined.

Treatment Options

Snyder Dermatology has multiple board-certified dermatologists with specialized training to screen for and treat skin cancer. Treatment for melanoma is based on the type and stage of melanoma, size, and location. Our experienced providers at Snyder Dermatology will work closely with you and discuss the appropriate treatment, which usually includes excision with a standard margin. If needed, our team will work with cancer specialists to assist in your treatment. In certain cases, additional diagnostic testing may be needed, such as a PET or CT scan, blood work, and lymph node biopsy. 

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Melanoma is one of the most aggressive types of cancer you can develop. Our goal at Snyder Dermatology is to educate our patients about skin cancer development and prevention and to diagnose and treat concerning lesions as early as possible. Not only do we assess for melanomas and skin cancers but we also educate you about the measures needed to protect your skin from the sun. If you notice changes in your moles or other skin lesions, please make an appointment at our Austin, TX office today.

*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.