Coastal Hematology & Oncology Center
Jessica Taff, MD
Oncologist & Hematologist located in Toms River, NJ & Forked River, NJ
Melanoma is a rare form of skin cancer, but it is also the most aggressive. At the Coastal Hematology & Oncology Center in Toms River and Forked River, New Jersey, Jessica Taff, MD, has extensive experience diagnosing and treating melanoma, and she can help you or your loved one navigate melanoma care. That process begins with a face-to-face consultation, which you can book online or by phone today.
Melanoma Q & A
What is melanoma?
Melanocytes are the cells in your skin that produce pigment, or color. When those cells begin to multiply in an uncontrolled manner, melanoma is present.
Melanoma only accounts for around 1% of all skin cancers, but it is also an aggressive form of cancer and leads to the majority of skin cancer deaths.
This form of cancer is most common in white Americans. African Americans and Hispanic people have a far lower risk of developing the condition, although it can still occur. That is likely because people of color have higher concentrations of melanocytes in their skin, which provide additional protection against damage from ultraviolet rays.
What does melanoma look like?
Unlike many types of cancer, melanoma often presents with clear, visible symptoms. Knowing what to look for and performing routine, comprehensive skin checks is an essential step in detecting melanoma.
The most common sign of melanoma is changes in the appearance of an existing mole. Things to keep an eye out for are called the “ABCDE” signs and include:
- Asymmetry or differences between each half of a mole
- Border that is irregular, blurred, notched, or ragged
- Color that is uneven
- Diameter greater than the size of a pea
- Evolving, or changing appearance over the course of weeks or months
If you notice any of these changes in an existing mole or see changes in other areas of your skin, schedule a diagnostic exam right away.
How is melanoma treated?
Dr. Taff begins by determining the stage of your melanoma as well as your overall health. There are various treatment tools that can address melanoma, including surgery, immunotherapy, targeted, therapy, chemotherapy, and radiation, and you will discuss each option in detail before deciding on a treatment path.
Surgery to remove the cancerous cells is a common approach and can cure early-stage melanoma. Wide excision removes the lesion and a portion of the surrounding healthy tissue. A procedure called Mohs surgery involves removing thin layers of tissue one at a time, checking for cellular abnormalities to determine when a healthy layer of cells is reached.
Immunotherapy uses medications to boost your immune function. This approach can help your body more effectively fight off cancer cells. Targeted therapy medications selectively attack melanoma cells that are dividing at an abnormal rate.
Chemotherapy and radiation can also help treat melanoma. These efforts are often reserved for cases where other treatment options have proven ineffective.
Don’t wait to seek care for any unusual changes in the appearance or texture of your skin. Melanoma is treatable, but it is also an aggressive form of cancer that requires swift intervention. Book an appointment with Dr. Taff online or by phone today.