Melanoma Cancer FAQs
Melanoma is a common - and often curable - form of skin cancer. Nevertheless, many people have quite a few questions after receiving a diagnosis and spend a bit of time learning about their condition to learn more about their options.
Frequently asked questions
If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma and would like to learn more about your treatment options and prognosis, you’re encouraged to consult with an experienced oncologist who specializes in skin cancer. What’s true for one person might not be true for another, so it’s helpful to have individualized recommendations—especially when it comes to deciding on a treatment plan. However, the following general information can help you learn more about your diagnosis:
- What are some common locations for melanoma?
Although melanoma can be triggered by sun exposure, it also occurs in locations that are usually protected from the sun’s rays. In men, melanoma is more commonly found on the torso, especially the back, and on the scalp. In women, melanoma is more often found on the legs. Melanoma is also commonly found on the face and feet. Rarely, melanoma can develop in the eyes, mouth, nasal cavity, and under fingernails and toenails. Click here to learn more.
- What kind of doctor removes moles?
If you have a mole that needs to be removed, you may be wondering whether your primary care provider can perform the procedure, or if you need to consult a specialist. In some cases, your primary care doctor can take care of the removal, but in other instances, you might need to go to a dermatologist. Click here to learn more.
- What happens if a mole biopsy is positive?
If a patient receives positive melanoma results after a mole biopsy, his or her doctors will need to determine the extent of the cancer and develop a treatment plan based on how far the cancer has progressed. Click here to learn more.
- Are melanoma symptoms different at each stage?
Yes, they are. In the early stages, melanoma symptoms are usually limited to visual changes and don’t cause any pain or discomfort. For instance, someone in the early stages of melanoma may notice a mole with varying colors, an asymmetrical shape, an irregular border or a large diameter. During the later stages, once melanoma has metastasized (spread), he or she may begin experiencing soreness in the lymph nodes, ulcerations on the skin, fatigue and other unpleasant symptoms. Click here to learn more.
- What does malignant melanoma look like?
Malignant melanoma presents in a variety of different ways. In some cases, for example, it will appear as a bump, sore or rash that bleeds, flakes or scabs without healing. In other instances, someone may notice that an existing mole has grown larger, become more raised or otherwise changed in appearance. For more information, click here.
- Five facts you need to know about melanoma
First, melanoma doesn’t always present as a mole. Second, melanoma can result from a short, intense period of sun exposure, as opposed to continued exposure over many years. Third, mutations in the CDKN2A gene can increase an individual’s chance of developing melanoma. Fourth, thanks to recent advancements in diagnostic technology, oncologists can test for melanoma without having to remove any skin. Fifth, research suggests immunotherapies and targeted therapies may be used to treat melanoma. Find out more by clicking here.
- How to prevent melanoma
There is no way to prevent some melanoma risk factors, such as having light-colored hair and eyes, fair skin or a family history of melanoma. Certain lifestyle changes, however, can help you avoid melanoma. One of the most significant ways to prevent melanoma is to reduce your exposure to sunlight and other ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Learn more ways to prevent melanoma by clicking here.
- What is metastatic melanoma?
The term “metastatic melanoma” is used to refer to melanoma (a type of skin cancer) that has spread from the skin to other areas of the body. Follow this link to learn more about metastatic melanoma.
- Where does melanoma spread to?
Melanoma can spread from the skin to various areas of the body, including the bones, brain, liver, lungs, lymph nodes and stomach. Click here for additional information.
- What are the symptoms of melanoma that has spread?
Once melanoma has metastasized—or spread from the skin to another area of the body—it can lead to a number of unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms will depend on where the melanoma has spread. For example, if melanoma has spread to the brain, it may cause headaches or seizures. Or, if melanoma has spread to the lungs, it might cause persistent coughing and shortness of breath. To learn more, click here.
- What is nodular melanoma?
Nodular melanoma is a type of skin cancer that’s known for its exceptionally fast growth rate. It can develop anywhere on the body, but it’s most commonly found on the face, chest, back, arms, legs and other areas that are frequently exposed to the sun. Click here to find out more.
- How to look for melanoma on your scalp
Melanoma on the scalp is a dangerous type of skin cancer, as it can form without being detected and can grow at a fast rate because it's located in an area with an abundant blood supply. A regular skin self-exam should always include inspecting the scalp. Click here to find out more.
Melanoma diagnosis and treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt Cancer Center’s Cutaneous Oncology Program welcomes patients with all types and stages of skin cancer, as well as those who have suspicious growths that require a diagnosis. We can help you explore all of your options and make the decisions that are most appropriate for your unique situation. We can also provide you with compassionate supportive care at every step of the way.