Skin cancer is a serious matter, especially when that skin cancer is melanoma. According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. It's more likely to metastasize into other parts of your body, which can make you very sick. If you've been diagnosed with melanoma, you may be understandably concerned about the future of your health. However, it's possible to recover from melanoma skin cancer with the proper treatment. Here are four things you should do after you receive your diagnosis.
1. Attend a follow-up appointment
If a skin biopsy shows signs of melanoma, you'll have to return to your dermatologist for another full-body exam. Your doctor will check for other possible areas of skin cancer and examine your lymph nodes. When melanoma metastasizes, the lymph nodes are often the first body part affected. If your doctor thinks your lymph nodes have been infected, they may do another biopsy.
2. Receive a more detailed diagnosis
Once your dermatologist has performed all the necessary biopsies as well as any other tests, they will be able to give you more information on your condition. Like other types of cancer, the severity of melanoma skin cancer is described in stages. Stage one melanoma means the skin cancer is contained to the immediate area surrounding the lesion, while stage four means that the cancer has spread past your lymph nodes into other body parts.
3. Have the skin cancer removed
Your stage diagnosis will help your dermatologist tailor a treatment plan to suit you. Your melanoma will be surgically removed. Typically, this is an outpatient procedure and may be performed in your dermatologist's office under local anesthesia. If the cancer has metastasized, you may need to take medication or undergo chemotherapy. Your doctor will be able to inform you of the treatment options available to you, which may include visiting a melanoma cancer treatment service.
4. Keep going for regular dermatologist appointments
After your melanoma has been removed, you will be cancer-free. However, it's important to still visit your dermatologist regularly. If you've had melanoma once, it means that you may be genetically predisposed to develop it again. Yearly check-ups will help your dermatologist catch any suspicious looking moles or growths on your skin. When skin cancer is caught early, it can be treated before it has the chance to spread to the rest of your body.
Hearing that you have cancer can be frightening, but you don't have to panic. Your dermatologist can help you beat melanoma. Make sure to schedule your first doctor's appointment right away since prompt treatment of skin cancer can make full recovery more likely.