Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. While this type of skin cancer is less common than others, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, it’s also more likely to spread and potentially deadly.
Melanoma skin cancer begins in skin cells called melanocytes, which are the cells that produce the pigment in your skin. These cells are found in the lower level of the epidermis, the outer layer of skin.
While melanoma cancer typically begins in the skin itself, it can also develop in the mucous membranes, which are thin layers of tissue covering surfaces like the lips. Melanoma can develop in skin on any part of the body but is most prevalent in areas that are commonly exposed to the sun, such as the arms, legs, head and neck. Markey also offers specialty care for skin cancers of the head and neck.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 207,390 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2021, in varying stages. Approximately 106,110 cases will be noninvasive melanoma stages, meaning they’re confined to the top layer of the skin, while the remainder of total cases will be invasive, meaning they have gone through to the second layer of skin.
Melanoma at UK Markey Cancer Center
Using state-of-the-art technology and leading-edge medical and surgical interventions, the skin cancer team provides advanced and timely diagnosis and individualized, ongoing care for patients. Each patient is cared for by a team of specialists who meet regularly to discuss individual patient cases and melanoma treatment plans. This multidisciplinary team will work with you and your doctor to coordinate a care plan designed to offer the best outcomes.
Markey has provided state-of-the-art cancer care since 1983, and we are proud to be the only cancer center in Kentucky designated by the National Cancer Institute. Since 2017, Markey Cancer Center has been nationally recognized as a top 50 cancer center by U.S. News & World Report.
Melanoma can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- A sore that won’t heal
- Changes in a mole’s surface, such as scaliness or bleeding
- Changes in sensation around a mole, such as new itchiness or tenderness
- Moles or skin spots larger than 1/4 inch wide
- Moles or skin spots that are asymmetrical, meaning the two halves don’t match
- Moles or skin spots that change size, shape or color
- Moles or skin spots that look different from other spots on the body
- Moles or skin spots with an irregular, ragged or blurred border
- Multi-colored skin spots, which may contain different shades of brown, black, pink, red, white or blue
- Redness or swelling around a mole or skin spot
According to the American Cancer Society, the survival rate for melanoma that has not spread beyond the area where it started is 99 percent. When it has spread to nearby tissue or lymph nodes, the survival rate is 66 percent. When melanoma has spread throughout the body, the survival rate drops to 27 percent.
You can lower your risk of cancer by taking steps to build a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways you can lower your risk for this disease, as well as improve your overall basic health:
- Avoid using tobacco products. Tobacco has been tied to multiple cancers, and it is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.
- Stay physically active. Your physical activity is related to risk for colon and breast cancer. Excess weight gained from inactivity increases the risk of multiple cancers.
- Limit alcohol consumption. It is important to be mindful of how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol intake, even in moderate amounts, can increase the risk for colon, breast, esophageal and oropharyngeal cancer.
- Learn about screenings. Your primary care doctor can recommend appropriate cancer screenings based on your age, personal risk and family history.
- Atypical moles (also called dysplastic nevi)
- Blond or red hair
- Blue or pale green eyes
- Fair complexion
- Family history of melanoma
- Many freckles
- Many moles (typically more than 50)
- Personal history of skin cancer
- Unprotected or excessive exposure to UV rays, from either the sun or a tanning bed
- Weakened immune system, due to an immunosuppressive disorder or medications
- For your first visit, you will be directed to the first floor of the multidisciplinary clinic within the Whitney-Hendrickson Building. Open Google Maps.
- You can register at the front desk or registration area, where a Markey team member will help guide you through your appointment.
- Several parking options are available to patients of Markey Cancer Center.
- Please remember to bring your patient packet with the completed forms. These items will help your doctor learn more about your case and determine the best plan for your care.
- To meet our patient needs, UK HealthCare accepts many forms of insurance.
Clinical trials are research studies aimed at evaluating medical, surgical or behavioral interventions to determine if a new treatment is safe and effective.
At UK Markey Cancer Center, we are advancing cancer care and research to prevent, detect and treat. As a patient at Markey, you have a team of people looking at your individual case, applying the most recent cancer knowledge to give you the best chance of survival.
Markey has more open clinical trials than any other cancer center in the region, giving you access to some of the most advanced options available. Learn more about ongoing clinical trials for treating melanoma below.