While considered the most dangerous among the common types of skin cancer, melanoma is highly curable especially when caught early.
Central to overcoming the deadly condition are vigilance (monitoring your skin for suspicious changes) and working with a highly skilled dermatologist – like our very own Dr. Theodore John (T.J.) Giuffrida here at Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center in Miami Florida – for timely diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Giuffrida will first carry out a thorough evaluation. This includes an assessment of your personal and family history as well as the following:
- Physical Exam – Giuffrida will check your skin for signs indicative of melanoma
- Biopsy – The doctor will remove a sample of your skin to send to the laboratory for examination.
Once Dr. Giuffrida confirms that your skin growths are melanoma, he will determine the stage by assessing the thickness and checking for signs that it has spread beyond the area.
If your melanoma is thicker, Dr. Giuffrida may order additional tests to see if the cancer has spread before devising a treatment plan. The tests may include another round of biopsy (sentinel node biopsy), to find out whether the cancer has reached your lymph nodes; and medical imaging (e.g., X-ray, CT scan, and PET scan).
Based on the results of the tests, Dr. Giuffrida assigns a stage 0 to 4: a lower number indicates localized cancer and a higher chance of cure.
When determining the type of treatment suitable for you, Dr. Giuffrida will take certain factors into consideration. These include the type and stage of cancer as well as your age, overall health, and personal preference.
Your treatment plan could include any or a combination of the following modalities:
- Surgery – Early-stage melanoma can be removed during biopsy and often requires no further treatment. Otherwise, Dr. Giuffrida will remove the cancer cells while sparing normal skin cells using a technique called Mohs surgery.
Dr. Giuffrida may also recommend this option, along with other modalities, for melanomas that have reached the lymph nodes.
- Immunotherapy – For melanomas that have spread to the lymph nodes, this is one of the treatments the doctor may recommend after surgery. Immunotherapy is aimed at equipping your immune system to fight the cancer. Dr. Giuffrida will administer this directly into the affected area.
- Photodynamic therapy – This treatment involves the doctor applying a topical chemical on the cancerous cells and exposing them to a light source to destroy them.
- Radiation – This involves the doctor using high-energy beams, such as protons and X-rays to expunge the cancer cells. This is recommended for melanoma that has spread to the lymph nodes and can’t be removed surgically.
Melanoma Treatment in Miami, Florida
Dr. Giuffrida, renowned the world over for his expertise and dedication to delivering the best outcomes for all types of skin cancer, has been a part of numerous stories of people who have won their battle against melanoma. He can help you live well or even defeat the disease as well!