Treatment begins and ends in the dermatologist’s office for most patients with melanoma.
They do not need the array of advanced treatments discussed in the accompanying article. They do not consult medical or surgical oncologists.
“People are afraid of this word, melanoma, but if it is caught at an early stage, it can be cured,” the doctor said. Pamela Sakaloski, dermatologist at Watson Clinic.
In fact, very cured.
The five-year survival rate for localized melanoma that has not spread beyond the skin is up to 99 percent.
This is 30 percent different for people whose cancer has spread to distant parts of the body (lungs, liver or other areas of the skin). When the cancer has spread to nearby areas or lymph nodes, the rate is 68 percent.
Early diagnosis and treatment make a difference. Therefore, it is very important for people to monitor skin changes, consult a dermatologist on suspects and avoid delays of fear.
“The earlier we get these cancers, the better our chances of curing them,” he said. Manuel Molina-Vega is a surgical oncologist at the Hollis Regional Health Center in Lakeland.
Primary care physicians should examine patients’ skin to identify any abnormalities or changes, Sakaloski said.
“The color of the area is usually pigmented, often showing different shades of brown,” he said when asked about distinguishing melanoma from basal or squamous cell carcinomas.
According to him, the last two are usually red and larger, but squamous can also be old spots or resemble warts.
Whether it’s melanoma (the most deadly) or the most common basal or flat cell, everything needs to be monitored. Better a poor horse than no horse at all.
The most commonly reported diagrams A, B, C, D, and E help diagnose melanoma:
• Asymmetry, when one half of the throne is different from the other half
• Boundaries appear to be incorrect, torn, or poorly defined
• The color varies from one area to another, such as brown, brown, or black.
• The diameter of melanoma is usually close to the size of a pencil sharpener in diagnosis.
• E for development. It looks exactly different or is changing in size, shape or color.
According to the National Cancer Institute, between 2010 and 2019, the age-adjusted rate of new skin melanoma increased by 1.2 percent per year.
The good news is that age-related deaths are declining.
“Melanoma mortality decreased by about 4 percent per year from 2015 to 2019 due to advances in treatment,” the American Cancer Society said in a 2022 report.
Oncologists in the area interviewed said they saw more cases of melanoma like Sakaloski.
“I definitely see more melanoma, fortunately, in the early stages of melanoma,” Sakaloski said.
Dr. Shalini Mulaparti, a medical oncologist at the Watson Clinic’s Oncology and Research Center, also sees an increase, and the severity is higher when she and other medical or surgical oncologists treat it.
“The number of advanced melanoma cases we are treating at our cancer center has been increasing over the last five years,” Mulaparti said.
She and Molina-Vega support self-examination of the skin and regular check-ups by a dermatologist.
The first stop for the diagnosis and treatment of melanoma is the dermatologist’s office to examine the skin, remove the skin from suspicious spots and send the samples for biopsy.
Melanoma skin cancer is measured to get its depth known as Breslow’s thickness, Sakaloski said. This is from the surface of the skin to the deepest part of the tumor.
For most melanomas, if the depth is less than 0.7 millimeters, the patient should not be referred for a lymph node biopsy. If it is deeper, the surgeon consults a surgeon for a lymph node biopsy to make sure that the melanoma has not spread.
The sentinel lymph nodes are located closest to the cancer.
For thick melanomas and right-sided lymph nodes, the patient is referred to oncology.
Thicker melanomas are more likely to spread.
In the early stages of melanoma, surgery to remove the edge of the cancer and the normal skin around it is a typical treatment. The width depends on the thickness and location of the melanoma.
These cuts for melanoma do not spread to the skin and are usually performed by dermatologists. Patients sleep.
What if cancer cells are found in the sentinel lymph nodes?
Removal of all lymph nodes, which had previously been associated with melanoma, is common.
MSLT-II, a previous test involving Lakeland Regional, has changed significantly. Molina-Vega said the court found that this did not lead to an increase in life, so the practice was discontinued.
After surgery, the remaining cancer-positive lymph nodes are monitored by ultrasound instead. Therapies such as immunotherapy can also be used.
Robin Williams Adams, firstname.lastname@example.org