At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, you have access to the latest advances in melanoma treatment from a compassionate team of experienced health care professionals. The T.W. Lewis Melanoma Center of Excellence at Banner MD Anderson in Gilbert, Arizona delivers a comprehensive melanoma program from prevention to survivorship. The Center is dedicated to providing the best testing, treatment, support, research and education for melanoma in the Southwest.
Melanoma is a type of cancer that begins in skin cells called melanocytes. These cells produce melanin, the pigment that gives your skin, hair and eyes color. Other names for this cancer are malignant melanoma and cutaneous melanoma.
Melanoma is less common than other skin cancers, but more dangerous. If it spreads to other parts of the body, it can be life-threatening. However, it’s often curable in early stages, so prompt diagnosis is key.
Melanoma can start on an existing mole or develop from a new growth or spot. Melanoma can look like anything, so the biggest clue a mole might be melanoma is if it changes over time – size, shape or color.
Melanoma usually occurs on sun-exposed areas of the body such as the back, chest, legs, neck and face. It also can form in “hidden areas” like fingernail beds, the soles of the feet and palms. There are also types of melanoma that occur in the eyes (ocular melanoma), mouth (oral melanoma) and genitals. The most aggressive form of melanoma is nodular melanoma, which accounts for 15% to 25% of diagnoses.
If you have concerns about your melanoma or skin cancer, contact our specialists at Banner MD Anderson.
Exposure to the sun and ultraviolet (UV) radiation increases your risk of developing melanoma. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma cases continue to rise, with causing an estimated 100,350 new diagnoses annually and 1 death every 54 minutes.
Melanoma is one of the most frequent cancers in young adults ages 20 to 30, and the main cause of cancer death in women 25 to 30 years old. Living in places with more sunlight, such as Arizona, Florida or Hawaii increases risk for melanoma. Also, sunburns as a child or any tanning bed use (even one time) can significantly increase your risk of getting a melanoma.
Melanomas can develop anywhere on the skin, but they are more likely to start on areas regularly exposed to the sun. Melanomas are most common on the chest and back in men and on the legs in women.
The skin cancer team at Banner MD Anderson is made up of experienced dermatologists, surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and other highly skilled health care professionals and support staff.
The biggest risk factor for melanoma is sun exposure. Be sure to always use sunscreen and do regular at-home skin exams to reduce your risk.
The way most melanoma is diagnosed is when patients notice a change to a mole or a new spot on their skin that prompts them to see a doctor.
To diagnose melanoma, doctors need to take a biopsy. Certain characteristics of your melanoma may make it more likely to spread (thickness and ulceration). Your doctor may recommend further procedures after the biopsy to see if the melanoma has spread. The stage of melanoma is determined by how thick in the skin it has grown and if it has spread to other parts of your body.
Usually, melanoma is treated with surgery and/or other therapies. If found early, melanoma is usually curable. If melanoma has already spread, then treatments such as immunotherapy or targeted therapy may be offered.
Below are some helpful resources to help you learn about melanoma and how you can protect yourself and your kids against it: