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Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

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Skin Cancer, Melanoma - Topic Overview

Your doctor will check your skin to look for melanoma. If your doctor thinks that you have melanoma, he or she will remove a sample of tissue (biopsy) from the area around the melanoma. Another doctor, called a pathologist, will look at the tissue to check for cancer cells.

If your biopsy shows melanoma, you may need to have more tests to find out if it has spread to your lymph nodes.

The most common treatment is surgery to remove the melanoma. That is all the treatment that you may need for early-stage melanomas that have not spread to other parts of your body.

Other treatments for melanoma include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.

The best way to prevent all kinds of skin cancer, including melanoma, is to protect yourself whenever you are out in the sun.

  • Try to stay out of the sun during the middle of the day (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
  • Wear sun-protective clothes when you are outside, such as a hat that shades your face, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants.
  • Use sunscreen every day. Your sunscreen should have an SPF of least 30. Look for a sunscreen that protects against both types of UV radiation in the sun's rays—UVA and UVB. When you are outdoors for long periods of time, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.
  • Use a higher SPF when you are at higher elevations.
  • Avoid sunbathing and tanning salons.

Check your skin every month for odd marks, moles, or sores that will not heal. Check all of your skin, but pay extra attention to areas that get a lot of sun, such as your hands, arms, and back. Ask your doctor to check your skin during regular physical exams or at least once a year.

Learning about melanoma:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

Living with melanoma:

Supportive care:

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 29, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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