Although the least common form of the main skin cancers, cases of malignant melanoma are increasing. The number of people diagnosed in the UK has risen by 50% in a decade and we will soon be at 17,000 new cases a year.
The chart below shows a 25 year study from the National Cancer Registration Service and highlights a well understood issue. From the 1960s onward, we all started heading for the sun and this is the result:
The condition can take a long time to develop, hence the age grouping, although melanomas can be diagnosed from early adulthood and in all cases, the ability to spread throughout the body makes them a dangerous condition.
The better news is that understanding, diagnosis and treatment have advanced at almost the rate the cancer has. With early detection and professional care, cure rates are not far away from 100%.
Whilst the sun is a main cause, other options such as familial history of melanoma will have been discussed at your personal consultation. Establishing cause can matter to a treatment plan and a timely solution.
Malignant melanoma requires prompt treatment to prevent spread to other areas of the body. This will almost always involve surgical excision of the cancerous tissue, to a safe margin.
In early diagnosed, smaller area cases, the surgery is likely to be minor and in most cases, surgical removal of melanoma is carried out as a day procedure, under local anaesthetic.
General anaesthetic is available where required, as is any related surgical intervention. In cases where the cancer could have spread to nearby lymph nodes, biopsy and where positive, removal of the lymph nodes is a possibility.
Depending on the nature and location of the melanoma, a gold standard technique called Mohs surgery may be a good option. This is highly effective in many situations, whilst minimising tissue removal and cosmetic damage.
Whether Mohs, or standard excision, skilled surgery is about aesthetic concerns as well as removal. Careful stitches, or additional procedures during initial surgery may be fine, although there will be times where cosmetic follow up is needed.
This is available in house at Harley Street Maxillofacial, from experienced plastic surgeons. Even where significant tissue removal has been required, the detailed techniques they offer can achieve fine results.
Treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or immunotherapy may be considered, mostly where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
We are pleased to help treat advanced cases, although early diagnosis truly is important. If you have any concerns about new, or changing moles, or similar lesions, pleased do arrange to see a specialist.
Whether you come to our London clinic for diagnosis, melanoma treatment, or after care, we offer personal support. Decisions should be made by understanding and working with patients, part of good treatment.