What Is It?
How to Spot Four Common Types
According to The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), there are four common types of melanoma. Here's what to look for:
1. Superficial Spreading Melanoma
- Look for a mole with irregular borders. In the early stages it may look like a freckle or flat spot that spreads sideways. The spot may darken or lighten over time.
- Look for a darkly pigmented lesion, although sometimes it can be light brown or colorless. The lesion may be ulcerated and bleed.
- Look for a spreading flat patch with irregular borders in various shades of black and brown. As lentigo maligna melanomas grow, the pigmentation and borders become more irregular. Dark, lumpy-feeling nodules—the invasive tumor—may appear within the irregular borders.
- Look for an irregularly shaped tan, brown or black spot on the palm or sole; nosebleeds, nasal stuffiness and a pigmented mass inside the mouth; a mass on the mucous membranes of the anus, urinary tract or female genitalia; or a narrow, dark stripe under a fingernail or toenail.
The AAD recommends seeing your dermatologist immediately if any moles or pigmented spots on your body exhibit:
A— Asymmetrical shape. One half is different from the other.
B— Border is irregular, scalloped or poorly defined.
C— Color varies from one area of the mole to another.
D— Diameter. Melanoma diameters are usually larger than 1/4 inch, but they can be smaller.
E— Evolving. The mole or skin lesion looks different from the rest or changes in size, shape or color.
Your treatment will be based on the stage, type, size, location and depth of the tumor; your age and general health; and the likely cosmetic outcome.
- Early stage: surgical excision.
- Later stage possibilities: surgical excision and removing affected lymph nodes, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy/biochemotherapy, gene therapy, amputation of affected fingers/toes, drugs/vaccines or clinical trials.