A new spot on your skin could be a symptom of melanoma.

Melanoma is the most aggressive kind of skin cancer. If it isn’t found and treated early, melanoma can grow deeper into the skin and spread to other parts of the body.

If you notice melanoma in its early stages and get it treated, your chances of recovery are very good.

That’s why it’s important to be familiar with any moles or marks on your skin and to look for the signs of melanoma, such as:

  • A spot on your skin that you haven’t seen before or that has changed
  • Changes in the color, size, or shape of a mole
  • A new mole or growth that doesn’t look like other moles on your skin
  • A sore on your skin that isn’t healing

Melanoma is skin cancer, but it also can happen in other parts of the body, including the eyes, mouth, liver, vagina, and colon.

Learn more about melanoma, who gets it, and how it’s treated.

Too much sunlight on your skin can increase your chance of getting melanoma.

Sunlight is a major source of ultraviolet rays, also called UV rays. Sun lamps and tanning beds are also sources of UV rays.

Being exposed to UV rays over a long period of time can damage normal skin cells and change them into melanoma skin cancer cells. That means being exposed to UV rays is a risk factor for melanoma. A risk factor is anything that increases you chances of getting a disease.

Other risk factors for melanoma include:

  • Fair skin that burns easily
  • A history of blistering sunburns
  • Moles
  • A family history of unusual moles
  • A family history of melanoma

Having a risk factor for melanoma doesn’t mean you will get melanoma, but it means you are more likely than the average person to get it.

Surgery is the most common treatment for melanoma, especially in the early stages.

Early melanoma that hasn’t spread beyond the skin can be cured by having surgery to remove it.

After melanoma has grown and spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body, you may be treated with surgery along with chemotherapy drugs or radiation.

Some advanced melanomas have been treated successfully with immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a newer type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to train your own immune system to find and kill the cancer cells in your body.

This is an exciting time for melanoma clinical trials.

Clinical trials are research studies that test out the latest treatments and drugs that are not yet available to the public. These new treatments have the potential to improve your quality of life or increase your chances of survival.

Since 2011, nearly a dozen new drugs have been approved for melanoma treatment, and more are likely coming. Our physicians are leaders in this research, and they understand these new developments.

For example, a new drug undergoing tests has the potential to reduce the risk of melanoma recurrence after surgery.

Holden offers personalized care and the latest treatments for melanoma patients.

Your care team of melanoma specialists consists of experts from different fields of medicine who work together as a group to choose the best treatment options for you and your cancer. Your team includes radiologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, genetic counselors, pathologists, pharmacists, nurses, and laboratory-based scientists.

Holden also offers you:

  • Clinical trials of new therapies: Clinical trials give you the chance to receive the most recent, advanced treatment options, such as drugs that are not yet on the market and other promising treatments that could increase your chances for recover and improve your quality of life. Our melanoma doctors are also researchers who are working to find new treatments and therapies for melanoma.
  • Mohs surgery: We are one of the only centers in Iowa to offer this surgery for removing melanoma that hasn't spread from its original location.
  • A melanoma follow-up clinic: These specialists see you after you’ve been treated and have your health back.
  • A dermatology clinic: This clinic specializes in screening patients who are at high risk for melanoma.
  • A melanoma tissue repository: We collect melanoma tissue samples from patients so that our scientists can do research projects to learn more about how the disease works and how it can be prevented and cured. Our past patients’ tissue donations may help us treat your melanoma. Your tissue donation can help us treat future patients.

You have a team of specialists ready to provide your care.

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Physician

Cancer Care Clinics

University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics

200 Hawkins Drive
Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Clinical Cancer Center

21602 Pomerantz Family Pavilion (PFP)
Elevator M, Level 1
Phone: 1-319-356-4200

Cancer Services-Quad Cities

1351 Kimberly Road
Suite 100
Bettendorf, Iowa 52722

University of Iowa Health Care Cancer Services-Quad Cities

Phone: 1-563-355-7733