Melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer, but the most deadly. If diagnosed early and treated, it is almost 100% curable. Once Melanoma spreads to other parts of the body, it is difficult to treat and can be fatal. Over the past ten years, the number of melanoma cases has increased more than the rate of any other cancer. More than 132,000 new cases diagnosed each year according to the World Health Organization.
Melanoma is a type of cancer that develops from the pigment-containing cells known as melanocytes. Melanomas typically occur in the skin tumor that. Early signs of melanoma are changes to the shape or color of existing moles. The majority of melanomas are brown or black. However, they may turn from dark to skin colored, red, pink or purple.
Types of skin melanomas
- Superficial spreading melanoma
This is most common type of melanoma accounting for two-thirds of melanomas. Superficial spreading melanoma presents as a slowly growing or changing flat patch of discolored skin. At first, it often resembles a mole or freckle / lentigo. It becomes more distinctive in time, often growing over months to years or even decades before it is recognized. Like other flat forms of melanoma, it can be recognized by the ABCDE rule: Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Colour variation, large Diameter and Evolving.
- Lentigo maligna melanoma
Lentigo maligna melanoma is the type most common in elderly people. Usually a darkly pigmented raised papule or nodule, arising from a patch of irregularly pigmented flat brown to dark brown lesion of sun exposed skin of the face or arms in an elderly patient.
- Acral lentiginous melanoma
Acral lentiginous melanoma is a type of melanoma characterized by its site of origin on the palms, soles, or beneath the nail (subungual melanoma). It is rare in Caucasians, but relatively much more common in people from the Far East.
- Nodular melanoma
Nodular melanoma, is the most aggressive form of melanoma. It tends to grow more rapidly in thickness (penetrate the skin) than in diameter. Instead of arising from a pre-existing mole, it may appear in a spot where a lesion did not previously exist.
Regular skin examinations are important to diagnose melanoma when it is at an early stage, and a biopsy is necessary to definitively identify melanomas. Based on the stage of the melanoma, and other factors, your treatment options might include surgery, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.