Lawrence A. Schiffman, D.O., FAOCD - Board Certified Dermatologist

Lawrence A. Schiffman, D.O., FAOCD - Board Certified Dermatologist


What is Melanoma Skin Cancer

Published May 16th, 2017 by Sahil

It's Skin Cancer Awareness Month and it's time to take care of our skin, our most massive and exposed organ. Many of us work or live in conditions that put our skin in the cross-hairs of sunlight, heat lamps, and carcinogens that are known to contribute to the chances of developing skin cancer. In fact approximately 40% to 50% of those who make it to 65 well develop basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma once in their life. Though these kinds of cancer are less likely to be fatal, melanoma is a form of cancer that is less liable to be contracted but dangerous. According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, about 52,170 men and 34,940 women will be diagnosed with melanoma for a total of 87,110 new cases in 2017.

Understanding Melanoma Skin Cancer

Melanoma is a more dangerous form of cancer than basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. It's the result of damaged DNA in skin cells typically caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds. The radiation causes a mutation that grows into tumors on the skin. Melanomas are often mistaken for moles, so a medical diagnosis is required to correctly identify the growth as cancerous.

Melanoma Symptoms

Spots on the skin which change in shape, size, and color are the best signs to identify melanoma. You should also look for the ugly duckling signs when examining the spots on your skin. These spots will look different and misshapen when compared to other spots on your body, and they will stand out. When you see these warning signs of melanoma, it is best to mention them to your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

The ABCDE Rule

As you check the growth use the ABCDE rule as a guide and let your doctor know if you notice the following:


A for Asymmetry: The halves of the growths don't match.

B for Border: The edges are odd, ragged, knobby, or jagged.

C for Color: Look for discolored patches including hues of black or brown or even blotches of red, white, pink, or blue.

D for Diameter: Check if the spot is 6 millimeters or as big as a pencil eraser.

E for Evolving: Check and see if the mark changes shape, size, or color.


Of course, not every case of melanoma falls under these rules. Consequently, you should contact Miami Skin Dr if you notice new spots, changes on your skin or growths that you think stand out from your moles.

Treatment for skin cancer

There are a variety of treatments that can eradicate skin cancer:


In cryosurgery, doctors destroy tumors using frigid temperatures. The growth is frozen using liquid nitrogen, applied in spray form or using a cotton-tipped applicator. Because there is no cutting involved and no bleeding doctors don't use anesthesia.


The physician uses X-ray beams to break down the tumor meaning no anesthesia or cutting is required. Destroying the tumor typically takes and few treatments over the course of a week, and in some cases daily over a month.

Excisional Surgery

In Excisional surgery, a scalpel is used to remove the growth, along with some buffer skin for a margin of safety. A local anesthetic is used, and the wound is closed with stitches.

This Skin Cancer Awareness Month, be kind to your skin and be on the lookout for any strange, ugly duckling growths. If you find anything that concerns you, contact Miami Skin Dr. Early detection of melanoma or skin cancer, in general, is key to being free of the tumor. Check out Miami Skin Dr to find out more.

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