Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that starts in the deep layers of skin with the cells produce pigment—is the leading cause of death related to skin cancers. Fortunately, if treated early, melanoma can be cured.
Melanoma can be found anywhere on the body, including the trunk, arms and legs, head and neck areas and under the nails. While fair-skinned people are more likely to get melanoma (as they have less pigmentation to protect their skin from sun damage), it does occur in people with different skin tones. And, while approximately 5 to 10 percent of diagnosed cases are genetically-linked, 20 percent occur in people with a history of sunburns.
Our team of fellowship-trained surgical oncologists has years of training and experience treating people with cancer. We use the latest research findings to care for patients and offer the most advanced cancer clinical trials. We believe in a multidisciplinary approach, and work with specialists in a variety of fields to offer you the highest standard of care.
At MedStar Health Baltimore Cancer Network, our expert dermatologic oncologists ensure you get a timely and accurate diagnosis, then treatment options designed for your specific circumstances. While melanoma is aggressive and potentially life-threatening, most cases are caught early and are curable. Treatment for early-stage melanoma is usually possible with a simple surgery, and often during the initial biopsy used to diagnose the disease. Our expert oncologists welcome the chance to help you with an initial diagnosis or offer a second opinion.
Our melanoma care features:
- Comprehensive, Innovative Therapy: We offer the full range of treatment options, including more complex surgeries for advanced melanoma and direct, high-dose chemotherapy to save limbs where multiple tumors have returned.
- Clinical Trials and Research: Our doctors and scientists continue to improve the way melanoma is diagnosed and treated, and provide access to promising therapies not always available through other networks and centers. One study is looking at photodynamic therapy—making cancerous cells more sensitive to light, then killing them with a laser.
- Follow-up Care: Unfortunately, melanoma can return to the same place even if cured, and patients are also at higher risk of developing other skin cancer. That’s why we make sure you get regular checkups to protect your health.
- Reconstruction and Restoration: Our team includes top plastic surgeons, in case the cancer is located in a cosmetically sensitive area or requires the removal of a larger amount of skin and repair afterward.
Getting a second opinion means asking a melanoma-cancer specialist, aside from your initial physician, to review your medical reports and test results and then provide a diagnosis and treatment recommendations. The specialist may confirm your initial diagnosis and treatment recommendations, provide additional treatment options or even give more details about your type and stage of cancer. Even if you’ve already had treatment, it’s not too late to get a second opinion.
While a second opinion may delay the start of your cancer treatment, a short delay does not typically pose a risk and it is important to get the right treatment the first time. Before you delay treatment, talk to your doctor about how much of a delay is okay for you.
When determining where to go for a second opinion, some qualifiers to keep in mind are as follows:
- How much experience do the physicians at the facility have—how many patients are treated for melanoma cancer each year?
- Are the physicians properly trained to diagnose and treat melanoma cancer—do they have board certification?
- Does the facility meet high standards for cancer diagnosis and treatment—is the hospital properly accredited and consistently recognized for medical excellence?
Types of Malignant Melanoma
Malignant melanoma affects people in several different ways. These ways include:
- Superficial spreading – This common type of melanoma appears as a smooth shape with uneven borders. Its can be bluish or brownish.
- Lentigo maligna – This type of melanoma generally affects older adults and appears as flat and brown on the arms, face, and neck.
- Nodular – This type of melanoma is bumpy and can either be black, blue, red, or even colorless.
- Acral lentiginous – This type of melanoma typically affects the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
Malignant Melanoma Symptoms
Certain types of moles can indicate the presence of malignant melanoma. If the mole has any of what we call the “ABCDEs of melanoma,” you should be sure to show it to your doctor. These characteristics are:
- Asymmetry – The shape of the mole is different on one side than it is on the other.
- Borders – The edges of the mole do not form a recognizable shape.
- Color – The mole is not one solid color. Rather, it can be different shades of light or dark brown, black, white or red.
- Diameter – The mole grows in size.
- Evolving – The mole changes in size or color.
In addition to these symptoms, malignant melanomas can feel irritated, uncomfortable, and even bleed.
For a physician referral, please call 410-248-8310.
Skin Cancer at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
Maryland Melanoma Center
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237
Skin Cancer at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239