Melanoma is a type of cancer. It may also be called malignant melanoma or cutaneous melanoma.
Most melanomas are brown and , but they can also be pink, tan, or even white.
There are four main types of melanoma, and each may present differently based on many factors, including skin tone. Many melanomas are flat or barely raised. They may have a variation of colors with irregular borders.
The thickness of the melanoma is known as the Breslow measurement or Breslow‘s depth. The amount of thickness can help determine the stage of the cancer.
Melanomas can develop anywhere on the skin, but they are more likely to start on the trunk (chest and back) in men and on the legs in women. The neck and face are other common sites.
Most moles will never cause any problems, but someone who has many moles is more likelyTrusted Source to develop melanoma. A warning sign of skin cancer is a change in size, shape, color, and irregular borders of a mole.
Superficial spreading melanoma
Superficial spreading melanoma is a type of skin cancer that grows horizontally in upper layers of the skin and eventually into deeper layers of the skin.
It’s the most common type of melanoma, accounting for 70 percent of all diagnosed melanomas. Symptoms and traits to look out for include:
- raised or flat shape, often with irregular shape and borders, sometimes on an existing or new mole
- brown, , tan, red, blue, and even white, often a darker shade of a person’s normal skin tone
- slow changes, often over the course of months or years
Nodular melanoma is one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer. Symptoms and traits to look out for include:
- a hard, raised bump
- ish-blue, dark brown, or reddish-blue in color (sometimes the same tone as the skin)
- continuously growing in size and shape, especially after 2 to 3 weeks
Hutchinson’s melanotic freckle (aka lentigo maligna melanoma)
Hutchinson’s melanotic freckle is an invasive skin cancer that develops out of lentigo maligna, a type of melanoma in situ. This means that it’s not cancerous and isolated just to the upper layers of the skin. This type of melanoma can become cancerous and turn into Hutchinson’s melanotic freckle, or lentigo maligna melanoma. Symptoms and traits to look out for in a skin spot include:
- a large flat or slightly raised brown or patch, similar to an age spot or freckle
- having a smooth surface and irregular shape
- having a brown hue, though it can also be red, pink, or white on occasion, depending on skin tone
- a larger patch, usually at least 6 millimeters
Acral lentiginous melanoma
Acral lentiginous melanoma is the most common form of malignant melanoma in people with darker skin tones. Symptoms and traits to look out for include:
- a discolored spot, often occurring on the palm, soles of the feet, fingers, toes, or nails, starting as an enlarging patch of discolored skin
- similar in appearance to a stain or bruise
- placement on a person’s hands and soles, and even occasionally in nail beds
Rare types of melanoma
- Mucosal melanoma. A form of melanoma that is found in moist areas of the body, such as the eyes, mouth, vagina, and vulva, among others.
- Desmoplastic melanoma. A form of melanoma that is usually found on skin that contains high amounts of cumulative skin damage on the head and neck. It accounts for approximately 1 percent of all melanomas in the United States.
- Uveal melanoma. A form of melanoma found in the eyes that may cause vision impairment and loss, among other issues. Early symptoms of uveal melanoma are rare and often discovered during routine eye exams. Later symptoms can include dark spots in the eyes, blurred vision, floaters, and changes to the eye shape and position.