Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer, but melanoma makes up only 1% of all skin cancer cases in the United States, with just over 91,000 new diagnoses each year. While rare, melanoma can be aggressive and requires experienced care, which Trevan Fischer, MD, provides for patients in Santa Monica, California, and across all of Southern California, including Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo and Palm Springs.. To learn more about melanoma and how it can be treated, call or request an appointment using the online booking tool.
Melanoma is a type of cancer that develops in your melanocytes, which are the cells responsible for the color of your skin. Exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays is thought to be the primary culprit behind melanoma and the cancer affects far more fair-skinned people than those with darker skin.
Melanomas can form anywhere on your skin, but they’re most often found in areas that are exposed to the sun, such as your trunk, legs, face, and neck. Less commonly, melanoma can also form on the soles of your feet, on the palms of your hand, and under your fingernails, especially if you have darker skin.
Melanoma typically first presents itself as an irregular mole on your skin. Most people have dozens of moles on their skin, which can make it difficult to determine whether a mole may be cancerous. A good rule of thumb is to look out for ABCDE:
If you notice a mole with any of these characteristics, you should have Dr. Fischer take a look. If he suspects that cancer may be present, a biopsy can be done for diagnosis. If the biopsy is abnormal, then Dr. Fischer excises the tissue locally, taking the cancer and enough tissue around it to leave only healthy margins behind. Depending on the tumor characteristics, Dr. Fischer may recommend a sentinel lymph node biopsy to determine whether the cancer has spread.
A sentinel lymph node is the lymph node nearest to your cancer and the one your cancer would most likely spread to. To figure out which of your lymph nodes that is, Dr. Fischer injects a dye near your cancer and follows it to the sentinel lymph node. Dr. Fischer then removes this lymph node to find out whether cancer cells are present.
If he finds cells that indicate your melanoma has spread, he’s better able to stage your cancer to determine next steps.
The answer to this depends entirely upon what Dr. Fischer finds in the biopsies of your lymph nodes and the excised tissue. If Dr. Fischer determines that your melanoma is local, the wide local excision may be treatment enough. If, however, the melanoma has spread, he works with your oncology team to come up with the best plan, which may include:
If you suspect that you have melanoma, or you’ve already been diagnosed by another doctor, call Trevan Fischer, MD, to find out more about removing the cancer. Or, you can fill out the online form to request an appointment.