Melanoma is a rare but serious type of skin cancer that spreads rapidly, becoming more difficult and risky to treat with time. Early diagnosis of the disease can make it manageable, but one should also ensure prompt treatment. The condition has several types, and people with fair skin or a family history of melanoma are at high risk of developing it. Here are some types and causes of melanoma.
- Types of melanoma
- Superficial spreading melanoma
This is the most common type of melanoma, and it starts on the top layer of the skin and makes its way down to the deeper layers. It affects people of all ages, but cases are uncommon in children.
- Nodular melanoma
This type of melanoma grows and spreads quickly. While only around 15 percent of melanoma cases are of this type, the rate of successful treatments is far below that for the other types. It usually affects the parts of the body that get a ton of sun exposure, like the legs, torso, arms, and head.
This type of melanoma causes a growth that looks like a mole, pimple, or bug bite and often appears like a round black bump.
- Lentigo maligna melanoma
It starts as a Hutchinson’s melanotic freckle on the skin’s outer surface and is categorized as lentigo maligna melanoma once it starts spreading to the deeper layers. One of the least common types of melanoma, it grows slowly at the beginning but spreads aggressively once it spreads beneath the skin surface.
This type of melanoma appears like a freckle or an age spot and is a slightly raised or flat brown patch on the skin. It usually appears around the neck or face, especially on the nose or cheeks.
- Acral lentiginous melanoma
While this is an uncommon type among many, it is the most common form of skin cancer that affects African-Americans. It develops on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, or under the nails, and it makes up 2-3 percent of all melanoma cases.
One of the early visual signs of this type of melanoma is oddly shaped black, tan, gray, or brown skin marks with irregular borders.
- Causes and risk factors for melanoma
As with several forms of cancer, the risk of melanoma increases with age. A majority of melanoma cases are diagnosed in people between the ages of 55 and 74.
- Light skin tone
The risk of melanoma is higher among whites, and those with blonde or red hair and blue or green eyes are more likely to develop it.
- UV exposure
Spending too much time in the sun can cause significant skin damage and increase the risk of melanoma.
While some moles are harmless, some are cancerous and need a checkup. Any unusual moles on the skin should be immediately checked by a medical professional.
- Family history
Genetics contribute to increasing the risk of melanoma. Anyone with one or more parents or siblings with the condition is at a higher risk.