Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, which has the ability to metastasize. Detected and treated at an early stage, this type of cancer is almost always curable. On the other hand, if not diagnosed in a timely manner, melanoma can spread to other areas of the body, thus making it harder to treat and endangering the patient’s life.
Although not the most common type of skin cancer, melanoma has the highest mortality rate of all skin cancers.
Melanoma can take many forms: it can appear in the form of a mole, in the form of a reddened area or a skin lesion. It is important to notice any abnormalities in the skin, so that, if it is melanoma, the diagnosis should be established when the disease is still in its early stages. Melanoma can appear on any area of the skin.
Most melanomas develop on photo-exposed areas (which have “benefited” from sun exposure). Thus it is made that the most frequent locations where melanomas develop are represented by the back area (especially in men), legs (especially in women), arms and forearms.
However, not all melanomas develop in close connection with sun exposure. There are people who develop melanoma on areas that are not frequently exposed to ultraviolet, such as soles or other areas of the body.
Some forms of melanoma may also appear on the face, palms or soles, and the spaces between the fingers. There are forms of melanoma that develop at the nail level. Some tumors also appear in the mucous membranes, on the buccal or genital mucosa.
Signs and symptoms that can give away melanoma
Melanoma can take many forms: it can appear in the form of a mole, in the form of a reddened area or a skin lesion.
The most important alarm signal when it comes to melanoma is the appearance of a new, abnormal, cutaneous lesion or the modification of an existing lesion / mole.
The diagnostic method ABCDE, also known as the “ugly duckling sign” is made up of a series of characteristics that can indicate the presence of melanoma in a mole. Both the patient and the dermatologist can use the ABCDE method following the specific signals:
A – from asymmetry – one half of the mole has a different shape from the other half.
B – from the edge (from English “border”) – the edges of the mole are irregular.
C – from color – the color of the mole is not uniform, some areas being pink, red, blue or white.
D – in diameter – the mole has an increase, exceeding the size of a eraser from the end of a pencil.
E – from evolution – the mole changes its size, shape or color.
Other signs that can lead to melanoma are:
The presence of an injury that does not heal.
Redness or swelling of the edge of a mole.
Itching or pain in a mole.
Where does skin cancer develop
It is important to remember that mainly skin cancer develops in areas of skin that have been exposed to the sun, including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, but also the legs – in women.
On the other hand, skin cancer can develop on areas that are rarely exposed to sunlight: palms, the area under the nails of the hands or feet or the genital area.
When melanoma occurs in people with darker skin, there is a greater likelihood of it appearing on areas that are not normally exposed to the sun, such as the palms and soles.