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Melanoma Specialist

District Dermatology

Dermatologists & Mohs Surgeons located in McLean, VA

Melanoma may not be the most common form of skin cancer, but it’s the most worrisome. If left undetected for too long, melanoma can spread quickly to other parts of your body, including your lymphatic system. Fortunately, melanoma is highly curable with early detection and surgical treatment. The team of board-certified dermatologists at District Dermatology in McLean, Virginia provide preventive skin cancer screenings, comprehensive treatment solutions, and regular follow-up screenings for patients with melanoma. To learn more, call the office or book your appointment online today.

Melanoma Q & A

What causes melanoma?

Melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer caused by ultraviolet light exposure, either from the sun or a tanning bed. It develops when unrepaired DNA damage triggers mutations in your skin cells that prompt them to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.

People who live in sunny climates are more prone to developing melanoma, as are those who use indoor tanning beds, rarely use sunscreen, or don’t wear clothes that protect their skin from the sun. You’re also more likely to develop melanoma if you have:

  • Sun-sensitive skin or skin that burns easily
  • Fair skin, red or blonde hair, blue or green eyes
  • Large moles or more than 50 moles
  • A history of blistering sunburns in your youth

Melanoma can appear suddenly, but it can also evolve from an existing mole. It’s much easier to treat in its earliest stages before it spreads.

How is melanoma diagnosed?

Finding and diagnosing melanoma requires a careful, meticulous skin examination using a special dermatological instrument that lights and magnifies your skin for close viewing.

The ABCDEs of atypical moles characterize the most common signs of melanoma:

  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole doesn’t match the other
  • Border: It has irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined borders
  • Color: A mole that has color variations, including shades of tan, brown, black, white, red, or blue
  • Diameter: Melanomas are usually larger than a pencil eraser
  • Evolution: A mole that has changed in size, color, or shape

If the team at District Dermatology finds a questionable mole or another spot on your skin, they’ll remove it partially or fully so it can be biopsied in a lab. Melanoma cannot be officially diagnosed without a biopsy.

How is melanoma treated?

The primary objective of any melanoma treatment plan is to remove the problematic lesion along with all cancer cells in the surrounding area.

While some dermatologists use general excision to remove the melanoma and a small margin of surrounding skin, the team at District Dermatology uses Mohs surgery to help ensure the best possible outcome.  

Mohs surgery is an advanced procedure that involves excising the visible parts of the melanoma, and then removing successive layers of skin that may contain cancer cells.

Each layer is examined for cancer cells upon removal, with additional layers removed until there are no more cancer cells. Mohs surgery can take several hours to complete, depending on the extent of the lesion and the amount of reconstruction required.

Fortunately, regular skin cancer screenings can help you catch melanoma early, giving you a much greater chance of treating it successfully.

To learn more about melanoma or to schedule a skin cancer screening, call today or book an appointment online at anytime.