Melanoma Cancer

Our team of recognized experts customizes your melanoma care to ensure you receive the most advanced treatments with the least impact on your body

Melanoma Symptoms

While signs and symptoms of melanoma vary from person to person, the ABCDEFs of melanoma symptoms are an easy way to learn the early signs of melanoma.

Asymmetry:

Is one side of the mole different than the other?

Border irregularity:

Are the edges ragged or irregular?

Color variation:

Is the mole getting darker? Is part of it changing color or does it contain several colors?

Diameter:

Is the mole bigger than the diameter of a pencil eraser?

Evolution:

Is the mole growing in width or height?

Feeling:

Has the sensation around a mole or spot changed?
Show any suspicious skin area, non-healing sore or new or changing mole or freckle to your doctor right away.

Melanoma Diagnosis

Early and accurate diagnosis is important in melanoma care. This helps find out if the cancer has spread and helps your doctor choose the most effective treatment.
Basil Onco care has the most modern and accurate technology to diagnose melanoma and find out if it has spread. This helps increase the likelihood that your treatment will be successful.
Diagnostic Tests
If you have signs or symptoms that may signal melanoma, your doctor will examine you and ask you questions about your health, your lifestyle and your family history. If your doctor suspects a spot may be melanoma, a biopsy will be done.
Biopsy
Skin cancer can't be diagnosed just by looking at it. If a mole or pigmented area of the skin changes or looks abnormal, your doctor may biopsy the mark, taking a tissue sample for a pathologist to examine. Suspicious areas should not simply be shaved off or cauterized (destroyed with a hot instrument, an electrical current or a caustic substance). A biopsy should be performed first to determine if the area is malignant.

Your doctor may use one of these biopsy methods:

Local excision/excisional biopsy: The entire suspicious area is removed with a scalpel under local anesthetic. Depending on the size and location of the suspicious area, this type of biopsy may be done in a doctor's office or as an outpatient procedure at a hospital. Your doctor will put in stitches to close the excision and cover the area with a bandage.

Punch biopsy:

The doctor uses a tool to punch through the suspicious area and remove a round cylinder of tissue.

Shave biopsy:

The doctor shaves off a piece of the growth.
The sample of skin is sent to a pathologist, who looks at it under a microscope to check for cancer cells. Your tissue may be judged normal or abnormal. Abnormal results may include:
Because melanoma can be hard to diagnose, you should consider having your biopsy checked by a second pathologist.
Side Effects
As with any time the skin is cut, there is a small risk of infection after a biopsy. You should call your doctor if you have a fever, an increase in pain, reddening or swelling at the infection site, or continued bleeding.
If your skin usually scars when injured, the biopsy may leave a scar. For this reason, a biopsy on the face might be better performed by a surgeon or dermatologist who specializes in methods that reduce scarring.
Before you have a skin biopsy, you should tell your doctor what medications you are taking, including anti-inflammatory medication, which may make your biopsy look different to the pathologist, or blood thinners like Coumadin or aspirin, which could cause bleeding problems.
Other Tests
After melanoma has been diagnosed, tests may be recommended to find out if cancer cells have spread within the skin or to other parts of the body. These may include:

Imaging tests, such as:

Melanoma Treatment

Melanoma is not a “one-size-fits-all” type of cancer. The molecular and cellular changes are different for each person.
The experts at Basil tailor your treatment to be sure you receive the most advanced therapies with the least impact on your body. We have an extensive menu of choices to treat all stages and types of melanoma.

Customized Care

If melanoma is caught early, it is highly treatable. Surgery is the main treatment for early melanomas, and may be used as part of the treatment approach for advanced melanomas.
Because Basil Onco care leads one of the most active melanoma treatment programs in the nation, our surgeons have extraordinary expertise and experience that can help increase your chances for successful treatment.
If you are diagnosed with melanoma, your doctor will discuss the best options to treat it. Your treatment for melanoma at BASIL will be customized to your particular needs. One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms.

Surgery

The type of surgery your doctor uses to treat melanoma depends on the thickness of the melanoma tumor and if it has spread.
Melanomas Less Than 1 Millimeter Thick
The most often-performed procedure is a wide excision of the primary tumor. The surgeon carefully cuts out the melanoma and a predetermined area around it. The amount of skin that is removed and the degree of scarring depend on the tumor thickness of the melanoma. Most patients usually do not need more treatment.
Depending on the size of the melanoma, the local excision may be an inpatient or outpatient procedure, often with local anesthesia. The area may require stitches, and recovery can take a few weeks. The severity of the scar depends on the size, depth and location of the melanoma.
Your surgeon may discuss a procedure called lymphatic mapping and sentinel lymph node biopsy (see illustration below right). It is a minimally invasive surgical approach in which the regional lymph node(s) that receive lymph drainage from the primary tumor site is/are removed and carefully checked for cancer spread to the regional nodes. These "sentinel" lymph nodes represent the most likely nodes to contain spread, if any are involved. If the sentinel lymph node is cancer free, then the other lymph nodes do not need to be checked or removed. If the sentinel lymph node contains melanoma spread (metastasis), your doctor may discuss further surgery and other treatment.
Melanomas More Than 1 Millimeter Thick
The principal procedure is a wide excision of the primary tumor. The surgeon carefully cuts out the melanoma and a predetermined area around it. The amount of skin that is removed and the degree of scarring depend on the tumor thickness of the melanoma. Most patients usually do not need more treatment.
If a large area of skin is removed during surgery, a skin graft may be done to reduce scarring. The surgeon numbs and removes a patch of healthy skin from another part of the body, such as the upper thigh, and then uses it to replace the skin that was removed. This is done at the same time as the skin cancer surgery. If you have a skin graft, you may have to take special care of the area until it heals.
In addition to a wide excision, your melanoma surgical oncologist will often discuss a procedure called lymphatic mapping and sentinel lymph node biopsy, a minimally invasive surgical approach in which the regional lymph node(s) that receive lymph drainage from the primary tumor site is/are removed and carefully checked for cancer spread to the regional nodes. These “sentinel” lymph nodes represent the most likely nodes to contain spread, if any are involved. If the sentinel lymph node is cancer-free, then the other lymph nodes do not need to be checked or removed. If the sentinel lymph node contains melanoma spread (metastasis), your doctor may discuss further surgery and other treatment.
Regional Lymph Node Metastasis
If melanoma has spread to the regional lymph nodes, a surgical procedure known as lymph node dissection (also termed lymphadenectomy) is often performed. This procedure consists of removal of the “compartment” of lymph nodes related to the location of where the tumor-containing lymph node was identified. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia; one or more drain tubes are usually placed at the completion of surgery to facilitate recovery.
Depending on the extent of spread to the lymph nodes, radiation therapy may also be recommended to try to reduce the chance of the melanoma recurring in the regional nodes.
Metastatic Melanoma (Stage IV): Surgery may sometimes be used to treat melanoma that has spread to distant parts of the body.
Radiation Therapy
In collaboration with skilled radiation oncologists, cancer radiation therapy may be used as a component of your melanoma treatment plan. Radiation therapy may sometimes be combined with chemotherapy.
Targeted Therapies
These innovative treatments, many of which were developed in part at Basil, are designed to take advantage of a new understanding of the molecular alterations that sometimes occur within melanoma tumor cells. Treatment may include: