Dr. Rockoff received his undergraduate degree from Yeshiva College with the distinction of Summa Cum Laude. He received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His internship and two years of Pediatric residency were at the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center, followed by training in Dermatology at the combined residency program at Tufts and Boston Universities. Dr. Rockoff is certified by both the American Board of Dermatology and the American Board of Pediatrics.
Frederick Hecht, MD, lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr. Hecht is a Pediatrician and Medical Geneticist and is certified by both the American Boards of Pediatrics and Medical Genetics. Dr. Hecht was born and raised in Baltimore and attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. and the Sorbonne at the University of Paris receiving his BA degree cum laude with distinction from Dartmouth.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Melanoma is a cancer that develops in melanocytes, the pigment cells
present in the skin.
It can be more serious than the other forms of skin cancer because it may spread
to other parts of the body (metastasize) and cause serious illness and death.
About 50,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed in the United States every
Because most melanomas occur on the skin where they can be seen, patients
themselves are often the first to detect many melanomas. Early detection and
diagnosis are crucial. Caught early, most melanomas can be cured with relatively
This article is written from the standpoint of the patient. In other words,
instead of describing the disease in exhaustive detail, I will try to help
answer the questions: "How do I know if I have melanoma?" and "Should I
should be checked for it?"
Spots on the skin
Guideline # 1: Nobody can diagnose him- or herself. If you see a spot that
looks as though it is new or changing, show it to a doctor. When it comes to
spots on the skin, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Everybody gets spots on their skin. The older we are, the more spots we have.
Some of these are freckles, others are moles, and still others are made up of
collections of tissue, such as blood vessels or pigment cells. Most of these
spots are benign. That means they are neither cancerous nor on the way to
Guideline # 2: The vast majority of moles stay as moles and do not turn into
Some people are born with moles (the medical name is "nevus" plural "nevi").
Almost everyone develops them, starting in childhood. On the average, people
have about 25 moles, though some have fewer and others many more. Moles may be
flat or raised, and they may range in color from tan to light brown to black.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. Sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer, and people with fair skin and light eyes whose skin has a tendency to burn easily in the sun are most susceptible to the damaging effects of the sun's UV rays.