Melanoma is a very serious form of skin cancer. Though it is less common than other forms of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, it is far more dangerous since it can sometimes spread to other organs. This type of skin cancer starts in cells that are known as melanocytes. It is important to consistently examine your skin for any signs of melanoma. If you notice any possible early signs, then come into Essential Dermatology to get a diagnosis. Dr. Krathen is a board-certified dermatologist who will create a personalized treatment plan for you to take care of any signs of this skin cancer.
What Causes Melanoma?
Melanoma starts in the melanocytes which are cells in the upper layer of the skin. These cells produce melanin, the pigment which gives our skin its color. There are two types of melanin: pheomelanin and eumelanin. When the skin becomes damaged from Ultraviolet radiation, the cells start to produce more melanin. The eumelanin tries to protect skin by darkening it or tanning it. When the DNA damage from UV radiation causes mutations in the cells, this results in massive cellular growth which turns to melanoma. People who are fair-skinned are more likely to get melanoma because the skin has more pheomelanin, which does not protect the skin. That is why people with light-skin also burn easier than those with darker skin.
Symptoms of Melanoma
- A slowly growing patch of thick skin
- New spot or patch on the skin
- Changes to an existing mole
- Dark streak under or around a fingernail or toe
Treatments for Melanoma
To start the treatment for melanoma, Dr. Krathen will need to determine if the area is cancerous. He will examine the area to see if it is abnormal and then take a biopsy to test for cancer. Once it is determined to be cancerous, Dr. Krathen will test to see how deep it is in the skin and if it has the potential to spread. Most commonly, surgical excision is used to remove the affected area. In some cases, Mohs Surgery can be an effective treatment option. If the melanoma has spread more, you will need a more extensive treatment plan. Dr. Krathen will recommend options and create a plan based on your specific symptoms.
Schedule a Consultation
When found early, melanoma can be treated effectively. You are at an increased risk of melanoma if a first-degree family member has had melanoma. If you are at a higher risk for melanoma you should examine your skin on a monthly basis. If you have found symptoms then talk to a dermatologist. Dr. Krathen will work with you to find an effective treatment. If you detect any signs or symptoms then call our office at (508) 827-2615 or request a consultation by filling out our online form. To book an appointment, schedule your visit as a new patient using our online scheduler or as an existing patient using the Mass General Brigham Patient Gateway.
Meet Dr. Michael Krathen
Dr. Michael Krathen is a board-certified dermatologist with more than a decade of medical training and experience. A specialist in both medical and cosmetic dermatology, he uses expertise, collaboration, and compassion to help people of all ages discover their healthiest and most radiant skin.