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Melanoma Skin Cancer

Myriad’s genetic tests can confirm your diagnosis, tell you if you inherited a genetic mutation for melanoma, are at risk for additional cancers, or if your family members may be at risks for certain cancers. Having this information allows you and your healthcare provider to make informed treatment decisions. 

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Myriad Oncology's Tests for Melanoma and What Answers They Provide:

Melanoma diagnostic testing

myPath Melanoma® is a test that analyzes suspicious skin lesions at the molecular level to help determine its diagnosis, a correct diagnosis will ensure you have the best treatment path going forward.

hereditary cancer testing

myRisk genetic testing

Myriad myRisk® is a gene panel that helps identify your options for treatment, your risk of additional cancers, and if any close family members may be at an elevated risk of developing cancer.

hereditary cancer risk associated with melanoma

Over 10% of people diagnosed with melanoma have a family history of the disease.1 People who have a first-degree relative like a parent, sibling, or child with melanoma are two to three times more likely to develop the disease.1

Certain gene mutations can leave individuals with a lifetime risk of developing hereditary melanoma of up to 76%.2 Several genes have been identified as associated with hereditary melanoma and genetic screenings for melanoma can notify you of your risk.

To see if genetic testing will benefit you, take The Hereditary Cancer Quiz. It is time to take control of your health.

What is Melanoma Skin Cancer?1

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that forms when the cells that give skin its pigment become abnormal and begin to grow out of control. Melanoma is less common than other forms of skin cancer but is more likely to grow and spread quickly. It often begins at the top layer of skin and begins growing into the rest of the body. Although rare, melanoma can sometimes appear in other parts of the body, it is important to identify and treat melanoma quickly.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. Melanoma only accounts for 1% of all skin cancer, but it is the most serious. It is most prevalent among fairer-skinned people and women, and risk increases with age.

Skin cancers like melanoma are tied closely with UV radiation. This can be from sources like the sun or a tanning bed. A good defense against these forms of cancer is using effective skin protection like sunblock or clothing to help reduce your risk of exposure.

Melanoma Skin Cancer Signs and Symptoms1

There are many things to look for when looking for signs of melanoma. New or unusual moles, sores, lumps, blemishes, or changes to the way an area of your skin looks or feels may all be a signs of skin cancer.

Many people are born with harmless moles. Some moles develop as we age, and may change shape, size, or fade away with time. Moles that change rapidly in size or shape could be a concern and may need to be inspected by a healthcare professional to ensure that they’re not cancerous. 

The ABCDE rule is a simple guide to the usual signs of melanoma. Be aware of changes to your skin, and consult your healthcare professional if you encounter any of these signs:

  • Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other
  • Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred
  • Color: The color is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue
  • Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across, although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this
  • Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color

Moles are usually harmless, but you should still have them checked by a professional.

Melanoma Skin Cancer Diagnosis and Staging

Melanoma Skin Cancer Screening1:

A doctor will note the size, shape, color, texture, and area of a suspected melanoma. They will inspect whether it is bleeding, oozing, or crusting and may also check the rest of your body for moles or other skin issues that could be skin cancer or other conditions. 

If a doctor decides that a mole is suspicious, they may order a biopsy. This is a process where a sample of the tissue is collected and studied. This will help your healthcare professional know if it is cancer.

Melanoma Skin Cancer Staging1:

The staging system most often used for melanoma is the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system, which is based on 3 key pieces of information:

  • The extent of the main (primary) tumor(T): How deep has the cancer grown into the skin? Is the cancer ulcerated (formed into an ulcer or sore)?
  • The spread to nearby lymph nodes(N): Has the cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes?
  • The spread (metastasis) to distant sites (M): Has the cancer spread to distant lymph nodes or distant organs?

Melanoma can grow quickly, so it’s important to treat it early. Your doctor will help you identify what stage your melanoma is, and how best to treat it.

Melanoma Skin Cancer Treatment Options1

The main way to treat melanoma is with surgery. The scope of the surgery and what additional methods may be used is dependent on stage. While surgery is the primary way many doctors treat melanoma, there may be additional methods used.

Your doctor may recommend using one or more of these treatments:

Surgery

A wide excision is made to remove the melanoma and any surrounding tissue that may be affected.

Radiation Therapy

High-energy waves are administered to help control and kill cancer cells.

Chemotherapy

One or more anti-cancer drugs are used to stop the growth and kill cancer cells.

 

Talk to your healthcare professional about possible risks, side effects, and benefits of each treatment.

References
  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2020. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2020.

  2. Begg CB, et al. Lifetime risk of melanoma in CDKN2A mutation carriers in a population-based sample. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005 Oct 19;97(20):1507-15.

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