Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery
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The largest dermatology practice in America, Advanced Dermatology provides complete clinical and cosmetic skin care. Immediate appointments available at one of our 180+ locations.

Scalp Melanomas: The Less Visible, Yet Deadlier Cancer

The most common type of cancer is skin cancer. Of the different types of skin cancer, melanoma is the deadliest. Even if you regularly check your skin for abnormalities, it's entirely possible to miss the signs of melanoma—especially because it can develop on the scalp. This is one reason why every adult should visit a dermatologist annually for a skin cancer screening.

Risks of Scalp Melanomas

Each time you go outdoors, the top of your head is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Your hair doesn't provide sufficient protection, and neither does cloudy or cold weather. Since most people don't apply sunscreen to their scalp, the top of the head is a prime location for cancer development. And since most people don't regularly see the top of their head, melanoma that develops here can go undetected for a long time. Additionally, some dermatologists think that scalp melanomas can be more aggressive than other melanomas, due to the proximity to the brain and the high concentration of blood vessels in the area.

Signs and Symptoms of Scalp Melanomas

When melanoma develops on the scalp, it looks much the same as melanoma that develops anywhere else. Clinical dermatologists recommend comparing the appearance of an abnormality to the ABCDE guidelines.

  • A: Asymmetry. The abnormality doesn't have a uniform shape.
  • B: Border. It has indistinct or poorly defined borders.
  • C: Color. It isn't one consistent color, but rather has multiple colors.
  • D: Diameter. The area is larger than the diameter of a pencil eraser.
  • E: Evolving. The abnormality grows or otherwise looks different over time.

Detection of Scalp Melanomas

It isn't easy to check your entire body for skin abnormalities, although you should try your best once each month. If possible, ask a family member or close friend to check your scalp and back for you. You can also ask your hair stylist to let you know if he or she notices anything unusual. Lastly, remember to schedule a professional skin exam.

If you've never had a skin cancer screening, or it's been longer than a year since your last appointment, it's time to call a dermatologist. Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery has multiple locations nationwide to connect patients to high-quality care delivered by friendly and knowledgeable clinical dermatologists. Get in touch at (866) 400-3376.

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