Skin cancer has been an important topic of discussion in recent years. We hear much more today about the dangers of sun exposure than we did 20 years ago. And yet, skin cancer diagnoses continue to outnumber other types of cancer. This indicates that discussion needs to continue. It also needs to expand. More people are willing to hear about how to protect their skin. More are becoming aware of the value of professional skin cancer screenings. However, when it comes right down to it, there remains a bit of apprehension about facing the worst of the worst.
We’re talking about melanoma, the rarest but most dangerous form of skin cancer. Because melanoma can be deadly, we just don’t want to face it. The very idea of it is frightening. We understand that. At the same time, we have seen first-hand the immense value of early care. Here, we want to talk about the inner workings of melanoma to help you understand why we want to see you right away if you suspect anything odd about a growth on your body.
All cancers are progressive. The question is, how long does it take for cancer cells to grow beyond the borders of an original tumor. The way we assess cancerous conditions is to categorize them in stages. Stage 0 melanoma describes malignant cells in situ, situated in a localized area of skin. Obviously, this is an ideal time to remove cancer cells using Mohs or another excision technique. Stages I and II melanoma skin cancer indicate that malignant cells have escaped their original borders and have penetrated deeper layers of tissue. This is more concerning, and yet all three of these stages still hold a high potential for a cure (about 98%).
There is a natural tendency among humans to deny that which we do not like. Melanoma is a prime example. “Oh, that black spot? It’s just a mole.” This type of thinking, though natural, can lead to procrastination in obtaining a proper diagnosis. If a growth does contain malignant cells, waiting only gives them time to spread. Cancer metastasizes if not treated; that’s just how this disease works. Over time, the expanding melanoma tumor leaks malignant cells, releasing them into a lymphatic fluid. This is how lymph nodes obtain cancer cells. The lymphatic fluid, which now carries malignant cells, travels throughout the body to various organs. This is how organs that are distant from the original growth obtain cancer cells. By this time, treatment success declines to 18%.
Timing is of the utmost importance when we are talking about cancer. Visit our Teaneck, NJ dermatology office for your personal skin cancer screening. Call 201-836-9696.