There are several varieties of skin cancer, classified by cellular origin according to skin layer. The most serious type is malignant melanoma, and while it is the least common, accounting for only 2% of total invasive skin cancer cases, it can have the most serious consequences if not detected at any early stage.

In spite of numerous skin protection methods and increased knowledge about the disease, incidences of melanoma have risen over the last 30 years, and it has become one of the more common cancers in young adults. Usually, risk of malignant melanoma increases as people age, with the condition tending to develop in individuals 45 and older; however, it is now appearing more often in younger people than in previous decades.

Melanoma is highly treatable with early detection, but for this to happen, you have to pay close attention to your skin and the patterns of freckles, moles, and other marks that you might have. If you notice any changes, especially enlarged mole diameter, you need to immediately consult with a specialist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. One of the most qualified to help you with detection and treatment is Dr. Daniel C. Allison, an orthopedic oncologist with specialized knowledge and expertise in early detection and treatment of cancer such as malignant melanoma. This cancer often requires a multi-disciplinary treatment approach and, at his practice in Los Angeles, Dr. Allison has the extensive resources and diagnostic sophistication to handle all of your needs.


Melanoma is caused by overexposure to the sun, typically developing in heavily pigmented skin such as a birthmark, mole, or dark freckle. However, it can also develop as a new spot or growth. In either case, melanoma usually appears as a flat, irregularly shaped mole with uneven edges.

The parts of the body typically vulnerable to malignant melanoma include the extremities (arms, legs), neck, back, or chest, and less frequently on the palm of the hand or sole of the foot. Individuals with a family history or fair skin have a higher risk of developing the disease and should take extra precaution with sunscreen and clothing.

Paying attention to the cancer’s warning signs and symptoms is another proactive defense. Being aware of physical features that could indicate melanoma may help towards early detection.

Melanoma Characteristics

The disease typically includes the following characteristics:

  • Change in Mole Color – combination of two or more shades
  • Irregular Mole Border – ragged or notched edges
  • Enlarged Mole Diameter – 6mm or larger (pencil eraser)
  • Mole Evolution – color, shape or surface change
  • Mole Asymmetry – irregular formation

Advanced melanoma has additional symptoms which include swollen lymph nodes in the groin or armpit, which appear as colorless lumps under the skin. Sometimes these signs of skin cancer may not be discovered until you consult with a Los Angeles specialist like Dr. Allison, who can conduct a thorough examination to verify if the malignant melanoma has spread to another part of the body.

Melanoma Treatment

Most cancers are treated using a variety of treatment options with two or more methods used, and melanoma is no exception, unless you have early stage melanoma, which can be effectively treated with chemotherapy as a single solution.

Once you’ve been diagnosed and your doctor has performed a thorough examination including diagnostic exams, you’ll discuss treatment options with your doctor. One of the qualities most admired about Dr. Allison is his collaborative approach with patients. Dr. Allison reviews all treatment options with his patients, explaining them thoroughly so that you and the skin cancer specialist together can select a plan that best suits your personal and physical goals and needs.

Skin Therapy Options

Unless chemotherapy is sufficient for treating the disease, two or more methods are often recommended. These can include:

  • Chemotherapy – control or stop mealanoma growth
  • Surgery – removal of melanoma and surrounding tissue
  • Radiotherapy – minimize melanoma and prevent growth
  • Immunotherapy – medicines supplement natural immune system

Once treatment is concluded, patients are required to schedule periodic follow-up examinations to make sure there is no recurrence. The frequency of these checkups will diminish as time goes on. Your doctor will ask about your overall health, then perform a physical exam as well as an MRI and CT scan if needed. The outcome of these assessments are used to evaluate your recovery and progress.

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Contact the Orthopedic Oncology Specialist

Dr. Daniel C. Allison is a renowned Los Angeles orthopedic oncologist who has extensive expertise in diagnosing and treating tumors and skin cancer, including melanoma. He understands the complexities of cancer and is the ideal physician for coordinating a multi-disciplinary treatment plan. Contact us today for a personal consultation at 310.423.9247 and learn how we can help you.

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