Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, can develop as a new lesion anywhere on your skin, but it often begins in an existing mole from exposure to ultraviolet light. Melanoma is usually curable when it’s diagnosed and removed early. When the mole isn’t removed, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body, where it’s hard to treat and may be fatal.
You may choose to remove a mole because you don’t like the way it affects your appearance, or when it’s bothersome because it’s in a place that rubs on clothes. However, moles must be removed when they show signs of becoming cancerous.
The first sign of melanoma appears as a change in the appearance of a mole. The following changes, referred to as “ABCDE” changes, are warning signs of melanoma:
Any time a mole starts to evolve or change -- whether in size, shape, color, elevation, or it becomes swollen, itchy, or starts bleeding -- it’s time to have it evaluated by a doctor.
Most moles are removed in one office visit using local anesthesia and surgical excision. Your surgeon at General Surgical Care cuts out the mole and stitches it closed in a procedure that takes about 30 minutes.
After the mole is removed, it’s examined under a microscope -- either in the office or it’s sent to a pathology lab -- to check for cancer and to be sure all remnants of cancer were removed during the excision.
If your mole is cancerous, a larger area around the tumor may be excised. You may also need more extensive surgery to eliminate melanoma that has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. The team at General Surgical Care works together with your oncology team to be sure all of your treatments are coordinated.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!