Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Melanoma Treatment?
At Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, our specialists are well trained in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of skin conditions, including melanoma. We use the most innovative techniques to analyze each patient's condition and provide treatment that aims for full recovery in the shortest amount of time possible.
Melanoma is one of the most severe types of skin cancer. It generally occurs when the cells that are responsible for the production of melanin, also known as melanocytes, start to function abnormally. However, the reason behind the abnormal reproduction of cells is unclear. Specialists believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors and the exposure to ultraviolet radiation are the main factors that lead to the development of melanoma. Although this condition generally occurs in the upper layers of the skin, in rare cases it can also affect the eyes or the internal organs. The most common spots where people develop melanoma are the legs for women and the back for men. They usually consist of moles or growths that change size and color, have irregular shapes and edges, or present itchiness or soreness. The best ways to protect your skin from melanoma are to use sunscreen and avoid UV radiation. Melanoma is thought to be more common in men than women, and to affect more people in Northern Europe and North America than in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
Surgical Procedures Performed at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Melanoma
Melanoma can be surgically removed if diagnosed in the early stages of the condition. Melanoma surgery consists of removing the melanoma during an excisional biopsy in the case of small melanomas. For larger melanomas affecting surrounding tissues more extensive surgery may be required. For patients who suffer from these less severe cases of melanoma, these surgeries can be the only treatment needed. However, in more serious cases, where the melanoma has spread to the adjacent lymph nodes, additional treatment may be required.
Drugs and Other Treatments Needed for Melanoma
A specialist may recommend one of the following treatments for serious cases when the melanoma has spread:
Targeted Therapy »
Biological Therapy »
Radiation Therapy »
There are five types of cutaneous melanoma, and although some types are more severe than others they are generally treated the same way.
maligna melanoma »
Nodular melanoma »
spreading melanoma »
lentiginous melanoma »
Amelanotic melanoma »
Symptoms of Melanoma
While melanoma can occur almost anywhere on the body, these growths are more commonly found in areas that are more exposed to UV radiations, such as on the face, on the back, arms, or legs. Certain types of melanoma can also occur in less exposed areas, like the soles of the feet, the palms of the hands, or even under the fingernails. Some of the most common symptoms associated with melanoma are:
- Visible changes in the existing moles.
- The development of an abnormal growth on the surface of the skin.
The easiest way to remember the most common characteristics of melanoma is the “ABCDE” technique, which stands for:
- A: Asymmetrical shape.
- B: Border with irregular edges.
- C: Color that changes, or that is unevenly distributed.
- D: Diameter that exceeds 6 millimeters, or ¼ inch.
- E: Evolving rapidly.
Diagnosis of Melanoma
The most frequently used diagnosis techniques for melanoma are:
- Skin exams: Performed by a specialist, a skin exam is a general visual head-to-toe inspection of the skin which aims to discover any abnormal growths or moles that might be dangerous. Specialists recommend that patients seek medical advice on whether to undergo periodic skin examinations or not.
- Biopsy: In order to know whether a mole is malignant or not, the specialist may choose one of the following biopsy techniques: incisional biopsy, excisional biopsy, or punch biopsy. An incisional biopsy consists in removal of the irregular part of the mole; an excisional biopsy consists of removing the entire mole; and the punch biopsy consists in removing a small round piece of skin using a special tool. Additionally, a sentinel node biopsy can be recommended if the doctor suspects that cancer might have spread to the adjacent lymph nodes.
- Imaging scans: In some cases, a patient diagnosed with melanoma might be recommended to have X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, or PET scans.
Risk Factors for Melanoma
Some of the most important risk factors associated with the development of melanoma are:
- Skin color: Having a lighter complexion means having less melanin in your skin, thus being less protected from UV radiation. Having blonde or red hair and freckles can also indicate that a person is more likely to develop melanoma. However, there are certain types of melanoma that are more common in people with darker complexions.
- Sunburns: Having suffered from severe sunburns in the past can increase the chances of developing melanoma.
- UV radiation: Being excessively exposed to UV radiation, either from the sun or from tanning beds, can greatly increase one's risk of developing melanoma.
- Having many moles: Specialists believe that people who have more than 50 moles or who have a large number of abnormal moles have a higher risk of developing melanoma.
- Genetics: Having a family history of melanoma can indicate that a person is more susceptible to developing this condition.
- Weak immune system: People who have a weakened immune system are more susceptible to any condition and this applies to melanoma as well.
It is important to mention that melanoma is a serious condition that requires medical attention. However, there are certain alternative treatments that can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with this condition. Although some patients might think that they can treat or cure their melanoma by using alternative therapies, it is a known fact that most of these therapies have not been scientifically verified. Consequently, it is strongly recommended that you discuss with your doctor before trying any alternative treatments.
- Nutrition therapy: In order to successfully beat any type of cancer it is important to have a healthy diet and to get enough physical exercise. Nutrition therapy aims to provide the patient with the vital nutrients necessary to fight the disease and to maintain a healthy weight. Eating healthy can also help relieve some of the symptoms associated with medication treatments, while exercising regularly can strengthen your body and reduce some of the fatigue associated with cancer treatments.
- Herbal medicine: Certain plant-based medicines such as teas or capsules can be beneficial for patients who are dealing with melanoma. A very popular herbal remedy is green tea, which is known to be a powerful antioxidant.
- Acupuncture and acupressure: These Chinese techniques aim to relieve some of the symptoms associated with melanoma. Acupuncture consists of the careful insertion of tiny needles on various places of the body, while acupressure focuses on applying a certain amount of pressure on different points on the body.
- Hydrotherapy: This type of therapy consists in taking steam baths, or applying ice packs or compresses to the affected areas in order to relieve some of the symptoms associated with melanoma.
- Mind-body therapy: This type of therapy refers to certain exercising techniques such as walking or yoga that aim at improving the cardiovascular functions and reducing the stress associated with melanoma.
- Meditation: Meditation is effective when trying to relieve any anxiety or stress related to suffering from a serious condition. Additionally, this type of therapy focuses on maintaining a good attitude and on analyzing the relationship between the patient’s mental state and their physical state.
Although this condition cannot always be prevented, there are certain things that people can do in order to avoid developing melanoma, such as:
- Avoiding direct sun exposure for prolonged periods of time.
- Avoiding tanning beds.
- Wearing sufficient amounts of sunscreen.
- Wearing protective clothing and hats when spending time outdoors.
- Inspecting one’s moles periodically and seeking medical advice when noticing any abnormalities.
Are you suffering from melanoma? You can always learn more about skin cancer and how to treat and cure it by getting in touch with our specialists at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital.