Examples of Melanoma
These examples are not to be used as a diagnostic tool. If you have any worrying skin lesions, please consult your doctor.
Superficial Spreading Melanoma
By far the most common (70%) is called superficial spreading melanoma and as the name implies, it starts on the surface of the skin (in the epidermis) and enlarges. It generally takes the appearance of a funny-looking freckle which is flat, irregular in shape and has various colours ranging from pink and brown to black. It is important to note that the most common form of melanoma starts as a totally flat growth.
The common perception is that a melanoma forms a bump on the surface of the skin, but this only happens 5% of the time. Melanomas that form bumps are known as nodular melanomas. They generally grow faster than the superficial spreading variety and penetrate into the skin at an earlier stage of their development.
Lentigo Maligna Melanoma
Lentigo maligna melanoma occurs when a lentigo maligna turns cancerous. Lentigo malignas are the smudgy brown sun spots that commonly develop on the cheeks of elderly people. Change within a brown mark on the face (in particular, becoming darker) could signal the beginnings of a melanoma and a biopsy is indicated.
Acral Lentiginous Melanoma
This is a form of melanoma that occurs on the peripheries (acral is Greek for peripheral) such as one's hands and feet. The classical acral lentiginous melanoma is one that occurs under the nail and can look just like a bruise under the nail.
Special mention needs to be made about amelanotic melanomas because they are frequently missed and often diagnosed too late. They are not considered a separate category of melanoma and can be classified as superficial spreading, nodular or acral. Amelanotic melanomas do not produce any pigment at all and appear as pink or reddish spots which can be totally flat or produce bumps. They are rare, accounting for only 5% of all melanomas and tend to appear and grow rapidly (over weeks to a few months).