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I have been a patient of Dr. White for about three years. I find him very knowledgeable and professional. I just had a skin cancer removed by sur...

Jul 26, 2011



What causes melanoma?  

Malignant melanoma is caused primarily by ultraviolet (U.V.) radiation from the sun.  Radiation can damage the DNA which controls how our skin cells behave.  In the case of malignant melanoma, damaged DNA causes the cells to grow abnormally.

Heredity is also a risk factor for melanoma.  A person who is closely related to someone with melanoma is at greater risk of developing the disease.  Other significant risk factors include skin that freckles or burns easily, fair hair, blue or green eyes, and sunburns.  In fact, having five or more sunburns in a person’s life doubles their risk of melanoma.  Having atypical moles (known as dysplastic nevi) can also contribute to melanoma risk.  Whereas normal moles are round or oval in shape with a well-defined edge, atypical moles have a hazy or irregular border and splotchy coloring.  People who have atypical moles have more risk of developing melanoma and are advised to check their skin regularly.  Knowing your ABCDEs of melanoma may help to save a life.

Why treat malignant melanoma?

Left untreated, malignant melanoma can be a fatal condition.  It accounts for only three percent of skin cancer cases, but is responsible for 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.  The majority of people affected by melanoma are white men aged over 50, but it is also the most common form of cancer in young adults and a common form of skin cancer in women aged below 40.  The good news, however, is that the survival rate for melanoma is around 99 percent when the disease is found early.  People who believe that they may be at increased risk of melanoma should check their own skin regularly and undergo an annual full body examination with one of our board-certified dermatologists.

Should you develop a suspicious growth or patch of skin or notice a new or changing mole, please call to request an appointment with one of our dermatologists immediately.

If you are interested in learning more about skin cancer treatments, skin cancer surgery, medical dermatology or cosmetic dermatology in the Rock Hill, South Carolina, and Charlotte, North Carolina metro area, click here to request an appointment with Dr. Timothy Woodall, Dr. Richard White, or Ms. Kristin Berka. Or you can call our office, The Palmetto Skin & Laser Center, at (803) 329-6030 to schedule your appointment.