We’re excited to announce we’ve merged with Grossmont Dermatology



What happens if a skin biopsy comes back positive?

Our doctors perform skin biopsies regularly, and sometimes, these specimens are positive for melanoma. The first step is determining the extent of the skin cancer; this is called staging the malignancy. Once we know how far cancer has spread, our team develops a treatment plan based on the progression. In some cases, if the biopsy cleared the entire cancer, no further treatment is needed. Other cases may require additional skin removal and treatment.

How can I tell if a mole is irregular?

Our dermatologists should evaluate any questionable mole at Coastal Skin & Eye Institute. We can perform a biopsy to detect melanoma. Any skin growth or mole that is new or has suddenly changed color, shape or border needs to be examined. Worrisome moles tend to appear on the head, neck, upper back, torso and legs. Round, evenly shaped skin growths are often not a cause for concern, but one that grows larger, becomes more raised or has visual change warrants a visit to our office.

What are the ABCDE warning signs of melanoma?

Experts use ABCDE warning signs to determine which growths may be melanoma, including:

  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other.
  • Border: The mole has blurry, ragged or otherwise irregular edges.
  • Color: All moles should be a single shade. Any skin growth that changes color or has different hues of red, white, blue, black, brown or tan is a concern.
  • Diameter: A mole larger than the size of a pencil’s eraser could be cancerous.
  • Evolving: The mole changes by growing, shrinking, bleeding, itching or other alterations in tone, texture or sensation. Lesions identified as melanoma tend to grow rapidly in size or height.

What is malignant melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that originates in the melanocytes. It’s called malignant melanoma or cutaneous melanoma, and these tumors are often black or brown because the cancerous cells still contain melanin, though some may be pink, tan or white.

Malignant melanoma may present as a changing mole, sore, bump or rash that scabs over, flakes or bleeds but doesn’t heal. Late-stage melanoma may spread to the organs and cause death, but the cancer is highly treatable when diagnosed and treated early.

Do stages of melanoma have different symptoms?

Early melanoma is limited to changes on the skin you see with your eyes, such as a new, asymmetrical mole or a mole with a new irregular border or larger diameter. Late-stage melanoma that spreads in the body can cause sore lymph nodes, fatigue, skin ulcerations and other unpleasant symptoms.

How often should I be screened for melanoma?

The American Cancer Society recommends a cancer-related checkup by a physician, including a skin examination for people age 20 years of age and older. The Skin Cancer Foundation also recommends yearly professional skin exams. These appointments are critical if you live in a sunny environment like California. However, people with certain risk factors or a family history of melanoma need to be screened more frequently. Schedule an appointment whenever you notice a new mole or evolving skin growth.

We are proud to have Dr. Christopher Crosby as a member of our team. As a Fellow of the American College of Mohs Surgery, Dr. Crosby is one of the few Fellowship-Trained Mohs Surgeons in the area. He is able to provide the highest level of care in the removal of skin cancer as well as the most advanced techniques in reconstructive surgery.

Coastal Skin & Eye Institute/Grossmont Dermatology