Should I Worry About This Mole? Learn About The Types of Melanoma

    Should I Worry About This Mole? Learn About The Types of Melanoma

    Melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer. While less common than other types of skin cancer, it is more likely to grow and spread. In the UK alone, it is the 5th most common kind of cancer. What is melanoma and what are the different types of melanoma? Read on to find out.

    What is melanoma? What are the types of melanoma?

    Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. It usually begins in the melanocytes or pigment-producing cells.

    Melanoma usually develops in cells or body parts that have an increased exposure to the sun. For instance melanoma usually starts in the back for men, in the legs for women. In rare cases however, melanoma can also develop in other body parts and tissues, like the eyes or mouth.

    While it can happen to anyone at any age, melanoma usually develops in people aged 50 years old and above. Recently however, melanoma has been occurring more commonly among teenagers and young adults.

    Melanoma can develop from moles or other skin growths that have become malignant. However, most cases of Melanoma come from new growths. Melanoma will usually only affect the first layer of the skin or the epidermis. If it grows and becomes thicker, meaning, it spreads down to other layers, it can spread to other organs of the body.

    Types of melanoma: Causes

    Melanoma occurs when the melanin-producing cells in your skin malfunction. Skin cells normally develop in such a way that newer cells push older cells out towards the skin surface where they eventually fall off. However, when some cells get damaged, they might grow uncontrollably, eventually producing a mass of cancerous cells.

    It is still unclear what exactly causes new cells to be damaged and malfunction. Doctors believe that it is a combination of multiple factors including one’s genes, and an overexposure to UV rays.

    One huge source of UV rays is the sun. Some doctors believe that overexposure to the sun might cause melanoma, especially if your skin type is more prone or sensitive. However, melanoma may sometimes develop inside of the body, for instance in the nose or throat.

    Symptoms

    Spotting melanoma often involves spotting the growth of a new mole or seeing a change in one of the moles you have. You should consult your doctor if you see that your mole is:

    • Getting larger
    • Changing shape
    • Changing color
    • Bleeding
    • Becoming crusty
    • Starting to itch
    • Starting to become sore

    The ‘ABCDE’ of moles: Spotting the types of melanoma

    When trying to differentiate a normal mole from melanoma, always remember ‘ABCDE’.

    Asymmetrical

    Melanomas are usually irregular and shape and have two different halves.

    Border

    Melanomas are characterized by their jagged or notched borders.

    Color

    Unlike a normal mole, melanomas will have two or more colors.

    Diameter

    Melanomas tend to be larger than 6mm.

    Enlargement or elevation

    If your mole is getting bigger or is changing shape over time, it is most likely melanoma

    Types of melanoma

    Here are the different types of melanoma:

    Superficial spreading melanoma

    This is most common in people with pale and freckled skin. On the other hand this type is less likely to be found in people with darker skin. This kind of melanoma doesn’t pose as much of an issue since it tends to grow outwards rather than downwards. However, if it grows deeper into other layers of the skin it can be a concern.

    Nodular melanoma

    This type usually grows fast and can spread quickly to other layers of the skin. It appears as a lump that is black and/or red in color. One good way to spot them is if you notice any bleeding or oozing from the area.

    Lentigo maligna melanoma

    This type is more prevalent in older people. The melanoma may develop slowly, over the years. It looks like freckles but is black and usually larger in size. It is commonly found in areas that see increased sun exposure like the face. Lentigo maligna melanoma usually grows in size and can eventually develop to deeper layers in the skin.

    Acral lentiginous melanoma

    This is a rare type of melanoma that is usually found in the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet. They have also been seen to develop around one’s nails. This type of melanoma more commonly occurs in people with darker skin.

    Amelanotic melanoma

    This type is difficult to spot because they have little to no color. It has been observed however that they can be pink or red with light brown or gray edges.

    Treatment of the types of melanoma

    Depending on the severity of the cancer, surgery is the most common treatment for melanoma. If it has spread or metastasized to other parts of the body however, a more invasive procedure or immunotherapy might be suggested to increase life expectancy,

    Key takeaway

    Melanoma is a serious cancer of the skin. There are several different types of melanoma, some of which are more prevalent in people with specific skin tones. Identifying the early signs and symptoms of melanoma can lead to swift treatment. To reduce the risk of developing melanoma you should take steps to reduce sun exposure.

    Learn more about Skin Cancer here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    John Paul Abrina, MD

    Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital


    Written by Sky Abundo · Updated Jul 15, 2022

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