Melanoma is known as the most aggressive skin cancer as it can be fatal if left untreated. This disease often arises as a black or brown mole, but it can also be pink or tan in appearance. It starts in the pigmented cells or melanocytes of the skin, which is typically caused by excessive sun exposure or UV light. When the pigmented cells are damaged from UV light, it causes a mutation that leads to the development of a malignant tumor or cells. If you have a mole or brown spot that you are concerned about, call Fort Lauderdale Dermatology to schedule an appointment with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Eric Wilkerson. At our office in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Dr. Wilkerson can perform a thorough skin exam and perform a biopsy, if necessary.
It can be difficult to spot cancerous skin cells when you may not know or understand what to look for. This is why it's essential to meet with a board-certified dermatologist, like Dr. Wilkerson, to have your skin screened to map out moles and identify malignant skin cells as early as possible. Dr. Wilkerson will also educate you on signs to look out for with the ABCDE rules:
- A: Asymmetrical mole (one side is larger than the other)
- 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)
- D: Diameter (benign moles usually stay small, but malignancies will start to spread out)
- E: Evolving (cancer cells in a malignant mole will keep evolving and changing the appearance of the skin)
Melanomas are known to be caused by genetics and excessive sun exposure or tanning. You are also at a higher risk of developing melanoma if your parent or family has a history of skin cancer. Your chances increase if you have:
- Blue, green, or gray eyes
- Light-colored or red hair
- Routinely tanned in a tanning bed
- Excessive sun exposure (even if it did not lead to a sunburn)
Treatment for melanoma at Fort Lauderdale Dermatology is based on the subtype of the cancer, staging, size, location, and depth. Dr. Wilkerson's first step will be to perform a thorough full-body exam, perform a biopsy of any suspicious moles, blood work, and possibly take a PET or CT scan to determine a diagnosis. From there, he will review all your treatment options, which may include excision, Mohs surgery, electrodesiccation and curettage (ED&C), or topical chemotherapy cream. We also invite you to explore our skin cancer services to learn more about these treatments.
What to Expect
The treatment process will look different for each individual, depending on the therapy selected by you and Dr. Wilkerson. Dr. Wilkerson will take his time to answer all your questions and concerns so you understand all your options and can make an informed decision on how to move forward. He will also review the benefits and limitations of each treatment and provide a recommendation on which regimen he thinks will be best for you and your unique condition.
Schedule An Exam
If you have a mole or brown spot that has changed in size or color or suspect you may have skin cancer, it's important to schedule a skin exam right away. Seasoned dermatologist Dr. Eric Wilkerson has been treating men and women with melanoma for many years and can help ease your mind by providing a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Call Fort Lauderdale Dermatology in Fort Lauderdale, FL to schedule your consult today.