Melanoma | Miami Cancer Institute | Baptist Health South Florida
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Miami Cancer Institute melanoma patient with wife on beach

 Melanoma

​Overview

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that is less common than other cancers, yet it is considered the most dangerous because it can metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body. This year, it is estimated that more than 90,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma.

Melanoma is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in adults ages 20 to 30, and the leading cause of cancer death in young women ages 25 to 30.

Melanoma occurs when malignant (cancerous) cells grow in the skin’s melanocytes , which are the cells in the deepest layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin ) and give the skin its color or pigment.

Though melanoma is most common in adults, it can also be diagnosed in children and adolescents.

Melanoma often begins with a mole or a patch of skin, usually on sun-exposed skin like the head (especially the face/nose), neck, arms, legs and midsection.

When melanoma begins in the skin, it is called cutaneous melanoma. It also can occur in mucous membranes, tissues that cover surfaces like the lips, and in the eye (this type of skin cancer is called ocular melanoma).

The skin cancer specialists at The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.can​cer.gov)

Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of developing a disease. Having risk factors, however, does not necessarily mean you will get cancer, so it’s important to know your personal risk factors and discuss any concerns with your doctor.

The skin is the largest organ of the body, and melanoma risk factors can be either environmental and/or genetic. For example, those who have had long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or from a tanning bed are at higher risk of developing melanoma.

Other risk factors include having:

  • Fair skin
  • Blond or red hair
  • Blue, green or light-colored eyes
  • Exposure to environmental factors, such as radiation, solvents, vinyl chloride and PCBs
  • A history of several sunburns with blisters, especially at a younger age
  • Having several large or many small moles, or a family history of unusual moles
  • A personal history or family history of melanoma
  • Having certain changes in genes that are linked to melanoma

While people with light skin, hair and eyes have a higher risk for sun-related skin cancer, there are also risk factors for those of Hispanic, African-American and other descents.

The skin cancer specialists at The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.can​cer.gov)

Prevention

Preventing or reducing your risk for melanoma can sometimes involve changing lifestyle behaviors and certain environmental exposures, such as over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds.

Preventive measures also include:

  • Using sunscreen year-round, SPF 30 or higher, with both UVA and UVB protection – regardless of how light or dark your skin is naturally
  • Avoiding sun exposure midday when the sun’s rays are strongest (usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.)
  • Wearing protective clothing that covers your neck, head and eyes
  • Avoiding indoor tanning
  • Taking careful precautions to limit occupational exposure to toxic substances
  • Examining your skin , head to toe, every month

As with any type of cancer prevention, The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic specialists at Miami Cancer Institute recommend eating a healthful diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Our experts also recommend knowing and understanding your personal risk factors so that you can take appropriate steps to prevent or reduce your risk for melanoma.

Screening is also important to help prevent and detect melanoma, so remember to check your skin regularly for any unusual moles, growths, bumps or patches of skin, and to discuss any abnormalities or concerns with your doctor.

For many patients, screenings include:

Family History Analysis: Many skin tumor types can be inherited. In fact, while melanoma is often caused by sun exposure or UV (ultraviolet) rays exposure, researchers have found that several hereditary syndromes and genes are associated with an increased risk of developing this disease.

The ABCDE Rule: Patients and physicians follow the ABCDE rule for checking moles or lesions. The ABCDE rule stands for checking:

  • A: Asymmetry – if the shape is asymmetrical
  • B: Border – if the border is not smooth, is jagged, raised or appears irregular
  • C: Color – if it begins to change color, become darker or look uneven
  • Diameter – if it grows in any way
  • E: Evolving Appearance – if it evolves or changes in appearance in any way

  •  

    3D VECTRA Imaging : Miami Cancer Institute’s Skin Cancer Clinic is the first health system in the southern United States to utilize the state-of-the-art Vectra 3D DermaGraphix whole body imaging system.

    This groundbreaking 360-degree body mapping system scans nearly the entire surface of the skin in one instantaneous capture, creating a digital 3D avatar of the patient with images linked to each corresponding lesion on the avatar.

    One of just a few in the country, the detailed images and body map created with this revolutionary new system enables Miami Cancer Institute’s experts to study and monitor lesions and other skin abnormalities and accurately assess changes over time.

    At The Skin Cancer Clinic, our team of experts will discuss with you what screening tests are best for you as well as the steps you can take to lower your risk of developing melanoma.

    The skin cancer specialists at The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

    If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

    International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

    (Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)


     

    Monthly Skin Self-Check List

    One in five Americans will develop skin cancer, but the earlier you spot it, the easier it is to treat and, in many cases, even cure. In fact, about 44 percent of melanomas are discovered by patients themselves.

    Here’s an easy self-check list:

    1.Examine your body in front of a full-length mirror.

    2.Remember to look at the back of your neck (you can use a hand-held mirror), all around your legs and also at your feet – including the spaces between your toes.

    3.Check your scalp, including the area around and behind each ear.

    4.Use a hand-held mirror to examine your buttocks, genitalia and lower back.

    5.Follow the ABCDE’s of checking moles for signs of skin cancer:

    • The mole is Asymmetrical.
    • It has an irregular Border.
    • It’s made up of different Colors.
    • It has a Diameter larger than a pencil eraser.
    • It’s Evolving or changing in size, shape or color, or it’s painful, itchy or bleeds.

    If you see anything that appears suspicious or out of the norm for you, it’s important to check with your primary care doctor or dermatologist as soon as possible.

    The skin cancer specialists at The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

    If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

    International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

    (Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

    Signs & Symptoms

    Melanoma signs and symptoms can vary, so if you have any, especially those that last longer than two weeks, it’s important to get screened. Having signs or symptoms does not necessarily mean you have melanoma, but if you are diagnosed with the disease and it is detected early, it is often highly treatable.

    One of the most common signs of melanoma is a change in the way a mole or pigmented area looks. The ABCDE rule is a common tool physicians and patients can use to assess physical changes to a mole or lesion’s symmetry, border, color, diameter and evolving appearance. If you notice any change in the appearance of a mole, check with your primary care doctor or dermatologist.

    Other melanoma signs and symptoms include:

    • A mole that oozes, bleeds or is ulcerated (a hole forms in the skin)
    • A change in pigmented skin
    • Growth of new moles that grow near an existing mole
    • A sore that doesn’t heal
    • A bump that’s raised, smooth, shiny and/or pearly
    • A mark on the skin that’s firm (similar to a scar) and is white, yellow or waxy-looking
    • A patch of skin that’s scaly, bleeding or crusty

    It’s important to know your skin, and if you notice any unusual changes, talk to your doctor. Our internationally recognized experts recommend performing monthly skin self-checks .

    The skin cancer specialists at The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

    If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

    International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

    (Source: National Cancer Institute, www.can​cer.gov)

    Diagnosis

    At The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute, our internationally recognized skin cancer specialists work together across many medical disciplines (known as a multidisciplinary approach) to provide you with the most advanced screenings and comprehensive diagnostics available today – all under one roof and all conveniently located in South Florida.

    Our goal is to diagnose and treat skin cancer lesions and evolving melanomas in the earliest stages when they can be treated (and often cured) in a comfortable, state-of-the-art outpatient setting.

    The Skin Cancer Clinic also offers convenient same-day appointments with all members of the multidisciplinary team to design and deliver a personalized, comprehensive care plan for each patient.

    When you’re screened for skin cancer at The Clinic, our experts use a variety of personalized tests depending on what is right for you. This can include:

    • Biopsy or fine needle aspiration to examine tumor tissues and determine the specific kind of cancer present
    • Lymph Node Biopsy to determine whether cancer has spread beyond the primary tumor into the lymphatic system
    • 3D Vectra Imaging to create high-resolution pictures and images that enable experts to study, map and monitor lesions and pigment changes

    The skin cancer specialists at The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

    If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

    International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

    (Source: National Cancer Institute, www.can​cer.gov)

    Treatment Options

    The skin cancer specialists at The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute are internationally renowned experts who offer the most advanced therapies available to treat your specific kind of cancer.

    Immediately after diagnosis, our specialty teams provide additional tests to determine if the melanoma has affected other areas of the body.

    Every melanoma patient’s disease is unique, with different cells moving, changing or multiplying based on that person’s individual genetic make-up. In addition to locating the tumor cells and determining what the genetic changes and markers are, additional ways our specialists and subspecialists can create the best treatment plan is to factor in a patient’s age, overall health, family history, medical history, and finally to stage the cancer, which helps identify how far the disease has progressed.

    At The Skin Cancer Clinic, treatment recommendations are made on the same day so that patients can receive the best personalized treatment therapies as soon as possible.

    Your personalized treatment plan may include:

    Surgery: Every patient’s cancer is unique, so your specialists at The Skin Cancer Clinic will discuss what surgical option might be best for you.

    Radiation Therapy: As the only cancer center in the world to offer all of the latest radiation therapy technologies under one roof, Miami Cancer Institute is also home to South Florida’s first state-of-the-art proton therapy center. Proton therapy delivers less radiation dosage to normal tissues near the tumor, which can often reduce treatment side effects. It can also enable our experts to give a higher treatment dose to the tumor safely, further improving the ability to destroy tumor cells. For a full listing of radiation therapies available, click here .

    ChemotherapyChemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells and control their growth. Chemotherapy can be combined with other treatments either to shrink tumors before surgery or radiation or to ensure all cancer cells have been eliminated following other treatment therapies.

    Other chemotherapy delivery methods include:

    • Orally, in the form of pills or liquid
    • Injection, into a muscle or below your skin
    • Topically, in the form of a cream applied to your skin
    • Intrahepatically, which means it’s delivered to the hepatic artery, which sends blood directly into the liver
    • Intraperitoneally, which means it’s delivered in an injection into the abdominal cavity
    • Intrathecally, which means it’s delivered into the fluid-filled space between the thin tissue layers covering the brain and spinal cord

    Targeted Therapy: Our specialists use drugs or other select substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells, blocking their growth and spread. The goal of targeted therapy is to interfere with genes or proteins involved in tumor growth while avoiding damage to healthy cells.

    Targeted therapy is the foundation of precision medicine, which uses information about a person’s genes or a tumor’s DNA profile to develop innovative, tailored treatment options.

    Treatment can be delivered orally, intravenously or by another mode – specific to you and your cancer type. Targeted therapy may also be combined with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

    Immunotherapy: Your Miami Cancer Institute cancer specialist may use certain drugs to assist your immune system’s ability to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells, blocking their growth and spread.

    Immunotherapy is delivered intravenously and is usually very well tolerated. It may also be combined with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

    Clinical Trials offer South Florida patients and our communities access to leading-edge, innovative treatments that often result in new therapies not available elsewhere and can also often mean excellent outcomes for patients.

    The skin cancer specialists at The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

    If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

    International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

    (Source: National Cancer Institute, www.can​cer.gov)

    Treatment Planning & Cancer Patient Support Services

    The skin cancer specialists at The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute work together across numerous medical disciplines (known as a multidisciplinary approach) – medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, dermatology, pharmacology and more – to provide you with the most advanced, precise and personalized treatments available today – all under one roof and all conveniently located right here in South Florida

    Offering convenient, same-day appointments with all members of the multidisciplinary team, our Skin Cancer Clinic experts create an individualized treatment plan designed to address your specific cancer and to help ensure you receive the best care available anywhere.

    Additionally, our dedicated Cancer Patient Support Center team works with each patient to tailor a personalized plan that may include physical therapy, nutritional advice, pain management services and more. Your team of Institute specialists will work with you to determine which support services will best meet your individual needs.

    The Institute also offers an innovative Patient Navigation Program that streamlines each patient’s care delivery, creating a smoother, more seamless care path while also enhancing a compassionate patient experience on the cancer journey. From helping you manage symptoms and understand treatment options to assisting caregivers and helping resolve insurance challenges, the Institute’s nurse navigators develop compassionate and consistent relationships with patients to help each patient at virtually every point of need. To learn more about the Patient Navigation Program, please click here.

    The skin cancer specialists at The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

    If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

    International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

    (Source: National Cancer Institute, www.can​cer.gov)

    Clinical Trials

    Clinical trials offer cancer patients an additional source of hope and treatment options – even if other treatment methods have proven challenging and extraordinarily complex – by helping all of us gain new insights into ways of preventing, detecting, treating and curing cancer.

    And at The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute, our specialists believe that groundbreaking, transformative research through medical collaboration with each other as well as with other world-renowned cancer experts can bring promising new drugs and innovative therapies directly to the patient by offering access to leading-edge clinical trials – targeted to your specific type of cancer.

    Organized around cancer-specific research groups and led by internationally renowned oncology researcher and Deputy Director/Chief Scientific Officer Miguel Villalona Calero, M.D., the Cancer Institute’s Clinical Research Program is designed to focus on precision medicine and to conduct detailed, patient-centered studies that identify your specific genes and molecular makeup (known as genomics), as well as your environment and lifestyle.

    Additionally, our alliance with our colleagues at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center enables us to offer our patients access to even more innovative therapies and clinical trials to treat your specific disease – creating a robust Clinical Trials program unmatched by any other in South Florida and deemed one of the best in the entire nation.

    To find out which clinical trials may be available for your specific cancer, click here.

    If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

    International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

    (Source: National Cancer Institute, www.can​cer.gov)

    The Experts

    The internationally renowned skin cancer experts at The Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic at Miami Cancer Institute – and the advanced technologies we offer – provide you with a life-changing medical edge in your fight against cancer, and it’s all available right here in South Florida.

    Led by Chief of Head and Neck Cancer Surgery Geoffrey Young, M.D., Ph.D. (cancers above the collarbone); Surgical Oncologist Ramon Jimenez, M.D. (cancers below the collarbone); Head and Neck Medical Oncologist Guilherme Rabinowits, M.D.; and Dermatologist Jill Waibel, M.D., The Skin Cancer Clinic’s team of prominent oncologists and dermatologists comprises nationally and internationally recognized experts who are well-established in our community and who collaborate with each other as well as across medical disciplines to provide personalized, compassionate, innovative treatments for each patient.

    If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, would like more information, or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

    International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

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