Melanoma — Skin Cancer Treatment in Naples & Fort Myers

dermatologist doing a skin cancer screening

Harris Dermatology understands that Melanoma can be scary, as it’s the most common and most aggressive form of skin cancer. Our team of dedicated and well-educated dermatologists will provide you with the very best care and give you the attention and compassion you deserve.

What Is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that could be life-threatening if not detected. Melanoma accounts for more than 80 percent of all skin-cancer deaths, which is why Harris Dermatology stresses the importance of regular skin checks.

Symptoms of Melanoma

Early signs of melanoma are related to changes in the shape or color of existing moles, or the development of new moles on the body. Early signs of melanoma are generally identified by the ABCDE's of skin cancer:

  • Asymmetry
  • Border irregularity
  • Color variation
  • Diameter greater than 6 mm
  • Evolution over time

Early and Late Stages

Early signs of melanoma may develop from existing moles or may resemble moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. During later stages, a melanoma may itch or bleed.

What Are the Risks of Leaving Melanoma Untreated?

If a melanoma is diagnosed and treated in its early stages, it is usually curable; however, during later stages, it can rapidly spread to other parts of the body, become hard to treat, and possibly be fatal.

The Potential Causes of Skin Cancer

What causes melanoma is not known, although there are many suspected risk factors, including overexposure to sunlight or ultraviolet radiation, sun sensitivity, immune-system deficiency, family history of melanoma or previous melanoma in the patient, and even the presence of many freckles or moles on the body.

Although Caucasian ancestry is a suspected risk factor, all races and skin tones are susceptible to melanoma.

What Are the Treatment Options for Melanoma?

Treatment for melanoma depends on its location, thickness and progression, as well as the patient's age, health, medical history and preferences. A biopsy is often performed to determine the extent of the cancer. Most often, the appropriate treatment is surgery and in most cases, the surgery for thin melanomas can be done right here at our office as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. Stitches (sutures) remain in place for one to two weeks, and most patients are advised to avoid heavy exercise during this time. Scars are usually small and improve over time.

Discolorations and areas that are depressed or raised following the surgery can be concealed with cosmetics specially formulated to provide camouflage. If the melanoma is larger and requires more extensive surgery. You will need to consult with one of our doctors regarding options for reconstruction if that becomes necessary.

What Are the Most Common Spots for Melanoma on My Skin?

Usually, melanoma is seen in the areas of your skin that are exposed to the sun the most, such as the face and feet. However, that doesn’t rule out cancerous moles in other areas. Men will commonly see melanoma growths on their upper body, including the back, and on their scalp. Women will commonly see these moles on their legs.

What Kind of Doctor Can Remove Melanoma

To have a cancerous mole removed, an experienced dermatologist, like ours at Harris Dermatology, usually performs the procedure.

My Mole Is Positive for Melanoma. Now What?

If you receive a biopsy for a mole and it comes back positive for melanoma, our doctors will examine you to determine if the cancer has spread to any other parts of the body. From there, they will make up a customized treatment plan for you.

How Can I Prevent Melanoma?

While there is no known way for you to fully prevent melanoma, there are certain steps you can take to greatly reduce your risk of being diagnosed with the disease:

  • Limit your exposure to the sun, especially from 10 am to 4pm
  • Wear long clothing, sun hats, and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes from the UV rays from the sun
  • Make sure to apply and reapply sunscreen (every two hours) that has at least an SPF of 15
  • Avoid indoor tanning at all costs

See What Our Patients Say

"I've been going to this practice since they were in the Cape Coral office. Both Doctors and staff are truly amazing. I have to give a shout out to Sherri and Tammi. You guys are nothing but amazing. Thank you for putting me back together. I know my situation wasn't easy. But you aced it. I'm so grateful for all your hard work. I'm so appreciative and grateful. You made a bad diagnosis so simple. Thank you thank you!!!!!" - Darlene

Click here for more patient testimonials

What Causes Melanoma?

The exact cause of melanoma is not certain. However, a lot of cases are the result of overexposure to ultraviolet rays. Ultraviolet rays are emitted not only from the sun but also from devices such as tanning booths. You can significantly reduce your chances of developing melanoma by wearing sunscreen with an SPF level of at least 30 and avoiding tanning beds. Tanning beds are notorious for harming a person’s skin, and there are safer alternatives to having a tan, such as self-tan sprays that are FDA-approved.

Can Melanoma Occur Within the Body?

Yes, melanoma can occur within the body, but this is extremely rare. According to the National Institute of Health, about 1.4 percent of it accounts for all melanomas and makes up 0.03 percent of cancer cases. This is known as mucosal melanoma, and it occurs within the mucous membrane. This membrane is found in various parts of the body, including the nose, mouth, esophagus, urinary tract, anus, and vaginal area. They can be difficult to pinpoint because it is possible to accidentally confuse them with conditions with similar symptoms.

What Are the Risk Factors of Melanoma?

Though UV rays are the leading suspect, they are not the definitive cause. There are other risk factors that can contribute to increasing your risk of developing melanoma.

These risk factors include the following:

  • You have a family history of melanoma.
  • You have a history of being sunburnt.
  • You have a lot of moles that are not typical.
  • You have a weak immune system.
  • You have sensitive skin.

One of the most unorthodox risk factors for melanoma is living close to the equator. The closer you are to the equator, the more you are exposed to the sun’s UV rays. The same also goes for people who live at a higher elevation than others.

Contact Harris Dermatology for an Appointment

If you suspect a mole may be cancerous or are in need of melanoma treatment in Naples or Fort Myers, contact Harris Dermatology to schedule an appointment. You can call our Naples office at 239-596-1848 or our Fort Myers office at 239-936-3344. Alternatively, you can reach out to us online. We look forward to meeting you!


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