Types of malignant melanoma:
- Superficial spreading melanoma: this type appears as a brown or a black lesion, flat or slightly raised that may show irregular borders and color variegation. It's the most common type of melanoma in whites and most often appears on the upper arm and back in men and on the legs in women. This type spread initially through the epidermis which is the top layer of the skin, it can spread to the other layers of the skin (dermis and subcutaneous tissue) or even other parts of the body if it's not diagnosed and treated early.
- Nodular melanoma: this type of melanoma spreads quickly therefore it's the most aggressive type; it appears as a rapidly enlarging lump that is usually black in color. It may ulcerate and present as a non healing skin ulcer.
- Acral lentiginous melanoma: this type usually appears as a black or brown macule that has an irregular border on the palm of the hand, sole of the feet and under the nail. It's the most common among darker skin color people.
- Mucosal melanoma: this type may appear on the eyelid, lips, esophagus, penis, vulva, and anus.
- Lentigo maligna melanoma: this type appears on sun damaged skin of the face, neck and scalp as an irregular shaped, pigmented, flat lesion.
Diagnosis is made by examining a new appearing lesion or a change in a previously present lesion, when there is a suspicion, a biopsy will be taken and examined under the microscope to confirm the diagnosis. Other diagnostic test maybe needed to diagnose how far the disease has spread such as US, CT scan, MRI and others.
Treatment is usually done by surgically removing the melanoma with removing normal skin surrounding the lesion. Skin graft maybe needed when the lesion is large. In advanced cases lymph nodes maybe removed if melanoma has spread to lymph nodes. Other modalities of treatment maybe used depending on the stage of the disease which includes Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and immunotherapy. They may be used in combination depending on the stage of the disease.
Regular follow up is important after treatment to make sure that the tumor hasn't returned back as malignant melanoma has a risk of recurrence.
- Wearing protective clothes help to protect the skin from the effect of sunlight and avoid going out during peak hours from 10am-4pm.
- Using broad spectrum sunscreens with a sun protection factor of at least 15 or more. Wearing sunscreen 30 minutes before sunlight exposure and on all exposed body areas. Reapply frequently.
- Tanning beds avoidance.
- Regularly check your skin for any abnormal skin lesion and any change in previously present lesion, notify your doctor of any skin suspicious lesion.
- Have your doctor examine your skin regularly.
This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.