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What Is Melanoma And What Does It Look Like

Symptoms Of Skin Lesions

What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?

Facial skin cancer is divided into three different types:

  • Basal cell carcinomas affect the face, ears, and scalp, and are characterized by a pearly, waxy bump a flat, flesh-colored lesion or a brown scar-like lesion.
  • Squamous cell carcinomas are most typically found on the face, lips, and ears. Signs include a firm, reddish nodule, and a flat lesion with a scaly or crusted surface.
  • Melanomas can occur anywhere, but are commonly found on the head or neck. Symptoms of facial melanoma include a mole that changes in size or color, or bleeds a brownish spot with dark speckles a lesion with an irregular border and parts that appears red, blue, blue-black, or white and dark lesions on the mucous membranes lining the nose and mouth.

There are a few other types of facial skin cancers that are less common. These present with red or purple patches on the skin or mucous membranes firm, shiny nodules in the hair follicles or just beneath the skin or hard, painless nodules on the eyelids or other parts of the face.

Most primary skin neoplasms occur in skin that is exposed to adverse conditions. Ultraviolet light from sunlight is most often a contributing factor. Desert sunlight is particularly dangerous, but water and snow both reflect a high proportion of the ultraviolet light from the sky, increasing the risk for sailors, beach lovers and winter-sports enthusiasts. In farmers and ranchers, the skin of the face, neck and arms is also at high risk.

Melanomas That Could Be Mistaken For A Common Skin Problem

Melanoma that looks like a bruise

Melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin, including the bottom of the foot, where it can look like a bruise as shown here.

Melanoma that looks like a cyst

This reddish nodule looks a lot like a cyst, but testing proved that it was a melanoma.

Dark spot

In people of African descent, melanoma tends to develop on the palm, bottom of the foot, or under or around a nail.

Did you spot the asymmetry, uneven border, varied color, and diameter larger than that of a pencil eraser?

Dark line beneath a nail

Melanoma can develop under a fingernail or toenail, looking like a brown line as shown here.

While this line is thin, some are much thicker. The lines can also be much darker.

What Is An Ugly Duckling Mole

Everyone has moles and lesions. Your harmless moles and lesions probably look alike.7 Melanomas stick out from the crowd. Therefore, dermatologists look for the so-called ugly ducklings. This is another way of deciding if a mole or lesion is suspicious, even if it does not meet the ABCDE criteria above.

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What Are The Signs Of Symptoms Of Metastatic Melanoma

Signs and symptoms depend upon the site of metastasis and the amount of tumor there. Metastases to the brain may first appear as headaches, unusual numbness in the arms and legs, or seizures. Spread to the liver may be first identified by abnormal blood tests of liver function long before the patient has jaundice, a swollen liver, or any other signs of liver failure. Spread to the kidneys may cause pain and blood in the urine. Spread to the lungs may cause shortness of breath, other trouble breathing, chest pain, and continued cough. Spread to bones may cause bone pain or broken bones called pathologic fractures. A very high tumor burden may lead to fatigue, weight loss, weakness and, in rare cases, the release of so much melanin into the circulation that the patient may develop brown or black urine and have their skin turn a diffuse slate-gray color. The appearance of multiple blue-gray nodules in the skin of a melanoma patient may indicate widespread melanoma metastases to remote skin sites.

Melanoma On The Scalp

Does this look like melanoma? : Melanoma

Melanoma that grows on the scalp can be a dangerous form of skin cancer, as its much harder to detect than melanoma that grows on an unobscured area of the skin. Whats more, this type of melanoma grows at a much faster rate since there are many more blood vessels and tissues to aid this process. Therefore, its beneficial to conduct regular scalp skin checkseven more so if you are bald or have thin hair.

Heres how to conduct a scalp skin check:

  • Stand in a well-lit room with a handheld mirror.
  • Part a section of your hair and use the mirror to examine your scalp.
  • Look for moles, blemishes and red patches as you inspect your scalp, as these can be indications of melanoma.
  • Continue parting your hair and examining your scalp until you have looked over your entire head.

While its helpful to have a friend or family member to assist you with the scalp skin check, this is something you can do on your own. If you see anything suspicious, make note of it and report it to your dermatologist right away.

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Abnormal Bleeding Under The Skin

Leukemia disrupts the bodys production of blood cell platelets. Platelets are what help the blood to clot and to stop abnormal bleeding. When platelets become low, bruises can happen more easily. When talking about what does leukemia look like, many of our patients will notice they bruise spontaneously or without much force to warrant a typical bruise.

Leukemia bruises might resemble a normal bruise, but you might find there are more of them than usual. Sometimes, theyll occur in an unusual area of the body, like the back. 3

What Isnt Skin Cancer

The only way to be 100% sure that a lesion is not cancerous is to have it removed or biopsied and to have a pathologist look at the histology of the tissue.

However, the following are unlikely to be malignant and can usually just be monitored:

  • Typical skin tagsthese are usually found in areas of the body that rub against each other, such as under the arms or breasts.

  • Freckles that have been present since childhoodthese are small, flat, pigmented lesions that have been present since a young age and that usually fade without sun exposure. Use the ABCDE method to monitor them.

  • Age spotsalso called liver spots or solar lentigines. These are common in people over the age of 50 but may also be present in younger people who have spent a lot of time in the sun. They are typically present on areas of skin that have been exposed to the sun or that are sun-damaged. They can co-exist with skin cancers. Use the ABCDE approach to monitor age spots for malignant change.

Features of solar lentigines :

  • Flat, oval areas of increased pigmentation

  • Usually tan to dark brown

  • Occur on skin that has had the most sun exposure over the years, such as the backs of hands, tops of feet, face, shoulders, and upper back

  • Range from freckle size to about 1/2 inch across

  • Can group together, making them more noticeable

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What Is Metastatic Melanoma

    Metastatic melanoma is melanoma that has spread beyond its original site in the skin to distant tissue sites. There are several types of metastatic melanoma. There may be spread through the lymphatic system to local lymph nodes. This may show up as swollen lymph glands or as a string of skin tumors along a lymphatic chain. Melanoma may also spread through the bloodstream , where it may appear in one or more distant sites, such as the lungs, liver, brain, remote skin locations, or any other body location.

    What Does Early Skin Cancer Look Like

    What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?

    It can be challenging to tell if a skin change is unimportant or, in fact, is a sign of developing skin cancer. Skin cancer is not uncommon, as one in five Americans will develop skin cancer before age 70. Learning to spot the warning signs is vital. When identified early, skin cancer is highly curable. Do you know what to look for or when to seek medical advice?

    • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
    • Physiologic pigmentation

    The amalgam tattoo is a frequent finding in persons who have had amalgam restorations . When the amalgam is removed with a high-speed dental handpiece, amalgam particles can be embedded or traumatically implanted in the oral mucosa. Silver from the amalgam leeches out of the embedded particles and stains selected components of the fibrous connective tissue and highlights the blood vessels. The pigment is often solitary, macular, gray-black, and found near where amalgams were placed and subsequently removed. The gingiva, palate, lateral tongue, and buccal mucosa are commonly involved sites. If the particle is large enough, a dental radiograph may show radiopaque amalgam particles in the soft tissue or bone. Fragments of the amalgam can be observed on histologic specimens, and, on occasion, a foreign body giant cell reaction is noted.

    Lead shot and bullets also leave rub tattoos in the soft tissue of people who experience such violence.

    Medication-induced pigment may be more localized and blotchy. AZT is often a culprit.

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    What Do The Early Signs Of Melanoma Look Like

    Melanoma in its early stages may presents as:

    • A large brownish spot with darker speckles
    • A mole that changes in color, size or texture or bleeds
    • Large brownish patch or spot
    • A small lesion with an irregular border with areas that appear red, pink, white, blue or blue-black
    • Pain, itching or burning of the mole

    Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body. It may arise from an existing mole that becomes cancerous or from normal skin. Melanoma tends to occur on the face or the trunk in men. In women, it tends to occur on the legs. Melanoma can also occur in areas not exposed to the sun. Melanoma can affect all skin tones but more common in lighter skin tones.

    Back Up: What Is Melanoma Anyway

    There are three main types of skin cells in the epidermis, or the top layer of your skin: squamous cells , basal cells , and melanocytes , according to the American Cancer Society .

    Basal and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common types of skin cancer and make up a majority of all cases. Melanoma, which forms in the melanocytes, is rare in comparison, as it only makes up about 1 percent of skin cancers. However, melanoma is also the deadliest form of skin cancer, since it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body if not caught early, the ACS says.

    The upside: Skin cancer, including melanoma, is typically curable if it is found and removed early. Thats why its so important to not only see a dermatologist for an annual skin exam, but to also give yourself a head-to-toe examination every month.

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    What Does Melanoma Look Like

    Melanoma is a type of cancer that begins in melanocytes . Below are photos of melanoma that formed on the skin. Melanoma can also start in the eye, the intestines, or other areas of the body with pigmented tissues.

    Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the shape, color, size, or feel of an existing mole. However, melanoma may also appear as a new mole. People should tell their doctor if they notice any changes on the skin. The only way to diagnose melanoma is to remove tissue and check it for cancer cells.

    Thinking of “ABCDE” can help you remember what to look for:

    • Asymmetry: The shape of one half does not match the other half.
    • Border that is irregular: The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
    • Color that is uneven: Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.
    • Diameter: There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than the size of a pea .
    • Evolving: The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.

    Melanomas can vary greatly in how they look. Many show all of the ABCDE features. However, some may show changes or abnormal areas in only one or two of the ABCDE features.

    Why Is It Important To Identify Skin Cancer Early

    This Is What Melanoma Skin Cancer Looks Like

    The vast majority of skin cancer is completely curable if it is caught early. When diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer are delayed, the risk of death increases significantly. This is especially true of melanomas. Compared with early-stage melanoma patients, treated within 30 days of being biopsied, those treated 30 to 59 days after biopsy have a 5% higher risk of dying from the disease, and those treated more than 119 days after biopsy have a 41% higher risk.

    The easiest way to identify skin cancer early is to examine your skin regularly for any new or changing lesions. Remember to check your whole body. If you find any suspicious spots, make an appointment to see your doctor. Some people like to make regular annual or six-monthly skin screening appointments with their dermatologists.

    Many dermatologists offer mole-mapping, which is a specialized, ongoing form of screening moles for malignant changes.

    Whatever way you choose to check your skin, remember that early detection of skin cancer could save your life.

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    Signs Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

    Basal cell carcinoma most commonly looks like a small open sore. It could be red or pink in fair-skinned people and brown in people of color. It may present as a red patch or bump on the skin. BCC often has a raised or rolled border around the sore and may bleed or crust over. It can present differently in each individual.

    BCC is usually found on areas of the body exposed to the sun like the face, ears, neck, scalp, and shoulders. If you have experienced an open sore that doesnt heal or a red patch of skin that wont go away, its best to get it checked out. BCC can also look like a shiny, pearl-like growth or a waxy scar with undefined borders. The area may itch, be painful, or have no symptoms at all.

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    What Is Malignant Melanoma

    Malignant melanoma is a one of the subtypes of skin cancer. All skin cancers have the potential to be locally invasive and spread to other parts of the body. Malignantmelanoma is a highly aggressive skin cancer that tends to spread to other parts of the body. Non-melanoma skin cancers are comparatively less aggressive. Self-examination of the skin for suspicious changes, changes in existing moles, non-healing inflammation, ulcers or other abnormalities can help detect skin cancer at its earliest stages. Early detection of skin cancer gives you the greatest chance for successful skin cancer treatment.

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    Facts & Stats For Melanoma In Skin Of Color:

    • Melanoma incidence rates vary by racial group:
    • African-American 1 per 100,000
    • Asian/Pacific Islander 1.6 per 100,000
    • Hispanic 4.9 per 100,000
    • Indian/Alaskan Native 7 per 100,000
    • Non-Hispanic White 37 per 100,0004
  • Nonwhites are more likely to have advanced and thicker melanomas upon diagnosis and lower melanoma-specific survival compared with whites.4
  • People of color benefit from specific doctor recommendations explaining their risk of developing melanoma and which places on the body to check.5
  • Nail Melanoma Is More Common In Older Individuals And In People With Darker Skin

    What Does Skin Cancer Look Like Video

    As Healthline pointed out, melanoma on the extremities is the rarest subtype of the skin cancer. It accounts for less than 5 percent of all melanomas, Vishal Patel, assistant professor of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., told Today in 2019. But it makes up about a third of all the melanomas that African Americans, Indians, Asians and other people with darker skin develop, which is a ten-fold increase compared to the general population, the outlet explained.

    Souyoul warns that a personal or family history of melanoma, or nail trauma could also be risk factors. According to Rachel Nall, MSN, CRNA, of Medical News Today, having an immunosuppressive disorder, such as HIV, can also make you more likely to develop nail melanoma.

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    Can Melanoma Be Cured

    Melanoma that’s caught early, when it’s still on the surface of the skin, can be cured.

    Untreated melanoma can grow downward into the skin until it reaches the blood vessels and lymphatic system. This lets it travel to distant organs, like the lungs or the brain. That’s why early detection is so important.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Skin Cancer Of The Head And Neck

    Skin cancers usually present as an abnormal growth on the skin. The growth may have the appearance of a wart, crusty spot, ulcer, mole or sore. It may or may not bleed and can be painful. If you have a preexisting mole, any change in the characteristics of this spot such as a raised or an irregular border, irregular shape, change in color, increase in size, itching or bleeding are warning signs of melanoma. Sometimes the first sign of melanoma or squamous cell cancer is an enlarged lymph node.

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