Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It originates in melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing pigment in our skin, hair, and eyes. Early detection and treatment are key to fighting this potentially deadly disease. Many people are aware that a new or changing skin lesion should be checked but did you know that there are other less common signs of melanoma?
Melanoma can also manifest as a patch of skin that becomes darker or thicker over time. This change may be subtle, and it may not look like a typical mole. One reason for this darkening is lentigo maligna, a slow-growing subtype of melanoma that typically appears as a flat, dark, and irregularly shaped patch on sun-exposed areas such as the face.
Melanoma can also arise under the nails. This is known as subungual melanoma. Signs of subungual melanoma may include a dark streak or band on the nail, distortion of the nail or pain/bleeding around the nail. If you notice any changes to your nails, it's important to see a dermatologist for an evaluation.
Another uncommon site of melanoma is the eye. Melanoma can affect both the surface of the eye and the pigmented inner area known as the uvea. Signs include a dark mark on the white area of the eye or the iris, a change in the shape of the pupil or visual changes. You should see an opthalmologist if you are noticing any of these signs.
The hands and feet are another place where melanoma can occur - known as acral melanoma and is more common in those with pigmented skin types. Melanoma on the hands or feet can be particularly dangerous because it can often go unnoticed for longer periods of time. It is important to check your hands and feet regularly for any changes in the skin and to apply sunscreen before going out in the sun.
Genital melanoma is a rare form of melanoma that occurs on the skin or mucous membranes of the genital area. It can occur in both men and women, and it can develop on the penis, vulva, anus, or other areas of the genital region.
Symptoms of genital melanoma include a dark-colored, irregularly shaped mole or lesion on the genital area and itching, bleeding or discomfort. Unlike other forms of melanoma, melanoma in this site is not linked to sunlight exposure.
Being aware of the common and uncommon signs of melanoma can help you to detect suspicious lesions early where they are more amenable to treatment. Most forms of melanoma. To prevent melanoma it is important to remember these less common sites and protect from the sun through the use of sun avoidance, protective clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen.
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