Medical City Dallas

Baylor, Scott & White Plano


Melanoma—Early Detection and Prevention Saves Lives

Whether it affects a specific individual or a close loved one, cancer is a condition that touches everyone in some capacity. When we talk about feet, an important cancer to understand is malignant melanoma. Catching this disease early improves the success rate of treatment, but preventing it in the first place is even better.

What Is Melanoma?

Melanoma is widely-regarded as the most serious form of skin cancer and is often found in human cells (melanocytes) that create melanin. In rare occasions, it may develop in eyes and internal organs. Melanin is responsible for pigmentation and is the reason skin darkens when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.

With overexposure to UV radiation—either by short, intense bursts or lower levels absorbed over an extended period—the melanocytes sustain DNA damage, which leads to masses of cancerous cells. At this time, researchers are not entirely sure exactly how the DNA becomes damaged and causes melanoma, but the link between UV radiation and melanoma is quite evident.

What Are the Symptoms of Melanoma?

Early detection for melanoma is integral for effectively treating the condition. The mortality rate of this particular cancer is rather high for the simple reason that it is usually discovered in a late stage. With this in mind, it is essential to know that the primary sign of this cancer is irregular moles. We will discuss those momentarily, but note that a dark spot visible under a toenail might be malignant melanoma. More likely, it is simply blood pooled in the nail bed, but this situation still warrants a visit to our office for confirmation.

How Can I Recognize an Irregular Mole?

Whereas some moles are fine, unusual ones might be cancerous. When you want to easily identify an irregular mole, remember your ABC’s:

  • A – Asymmetrical Shape. If each half of a mole looks different from the other, it is worth investigating. Symmetry—where two halves look the same, except reversed (like in a mirror)—is what you hope to observe.
  • B – Irregular Border. A mole that has a blurred, notched, or ragged border should be examined by a professional.
  • C – Changes in Color. As opposed to the solid, singular color of a normal mole, a cancerous mole typically has multiple colors in an uneven distribution.
  • D – Diameter. Size matters when it comes to moles – anything greater than 5 or 6 millimeters (about the size of pencil’s eraser) should raise a red flag.
  • E – Evolving. Non-cancerous moles are consistent and will, more or less, stay around the same size and shape. If you have a mole that changes color, shape, or size, it is cause for concern.

If you have a mole that is round or oval-shaped, smaller than the size of a pencil eraser, has a distinct border, and is uniform in color—often brown, tan, or black—then you probably don’t have anything to worry about. Almost everyone has between 10 and 45 normal moles found throughout their bodies.

Are There Preventative Measures for Melanoma?

When it comes to melanoma, the good news is that viable prevention measures can decrease your likelihood of having to deal with it. Most are centered on avoiding, or limiting, exposure to harmful UV rays, including:

  • Avoid direct sunlight between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
  • Wear sunscreen of at least SPF 15 and protective clothing all year round.
  • Do not use tanning beds.
  • Examine your skin on a regular basis. (This won’t prevent melanoma, but it will help you identify the cancer early.)

When Should I Make an Appointment?

Early detection and treatment is your best bet for a successful recovery from skin cancer. As soon as you note an irregular mole, contact our office for the soonest possible appointment. We will assess the situation and take a skin biopsy to accurately diagnose whether or not it is cancerous. When the results come back, we will review them together and determine a treatment plan.

Dallas Podiatry Works is your partner in foot health every step of the way. Schedule an appointment at either our Plano or Dallas, TX offices by calling us toll free at 972.566.7474, or use our online form today.

"I did 3 EPAT treatments and it gave me tremendous relief from my plantar fasciitis. I highly recommend this for anyone who is dealing with PF. Also, the physical therapist Dr. Brook sent me too is fantastic. I am definitely on the mend and so glad I did EPAT."- All H. 5 star
"Dr Northcutt is a fantastic physician. My first surgery with him (although painful), went very well. A couple of issues (with his staff) needed to be corrected, I appreciated his calm and professional demeanor and he corrected those issues promptly. He sets the bar high (the mark of a great physician), and that is the key reason why I'm coming back to him to correct my other foot. I would highly recommend him."- She B. 5 star
"The staff at Dallas Podiatry Works could not have been more courteous, helpful, and professional in doing their job. They made me feel comfortable when I was there, which is certainly appreciated. They answered all the questions that I had and just made each visit the most pleasurable that it could be. I would highly recommend them to anyone needing this type of care."- Joseph B. 5 star
"My experience was a good one from pre-op to post -op. I saw the doctor right before my surgery.He explained the process to me and my husband. The recovery nurse was great. It was neither crowded or chaotic as some day surgery centers. My foot is doing well as I follow instructions. I look forward to my one week progress visit!"- Patricia T.5 star
"I had dealt with a painful foot problem for five months and had seen three different Doctors before seeing an article in D Magazine about Dr. Joel Brook. Dr. Brook took one look at my foot, explained the causes for my pain and set me up on a successful treatment plan. He is very knowledgeable, thorough and exhibits a caring attitude. I highly recommend him."- Ginger W. 5 star
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Join the 50,000 happy feet that have found relief at Dallas Podiatry Works! Our Dallas podiatrist and Plano podiatrist provides 5-star-rated foot care and ankle care. Our advanced foot care includes children's foot care, sports-related foot injuries, bunion treatment, bunion removal surgery, toenail fungus treatment, ingrown toenail treatment, hammertoe treatment, claw toe treatment, neuroma treatment, heel pain relief, limb salvage, wound care, arthritis treatment, safe pedicure, medicures, corn removals, callus removals, wart removals and more.
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