Melanoma is a tumour that affects the skin cells that produce melanin, a pigment that gives colour to the skin. A majority of such tumours is infectious and invasive and are associated with the cancer of the skin.
The invasive nature of melanoma makes it one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer. Such tumours may exhibit metastasis and spread to other healthy cells of the body. In severe cases, it may even lead to death. This is the reason why it is important to identify the signs and symptoms of melanoma on time.
You may notice no symptoms at all during the early stages of melanoma. However, the disease is most often characterised by an appearance of a new mole on the body or remarkable changes in the appearance and size of an existing mole or marking.
However, there are specific signs of melanoma that may warrant a need for immediate medical attention. For example, people may notice changes in the colour of the skin or the size of an existing mole.
Signs of Melanoma
The common symptoms associated with melanoma can be best described using the ABCDE system (asymmetry, border irregularity, colour, diameter and evolution). A melanoma is often asymmetrical, as one half of the affected region does not resemble the other half. In addition, the mole or marking has an irregular border, which may be blotched or blurred, and colour of a region within a mole may vary.
Pay attention to the size of the skin lesion. A mole with diameter larger than 0.2 inches could be a melanoma. Lastly, melanoma tends to stay in a state of evolution. Any skin lesion affected by melanoma continuously changes itself in terms of colour, size and shape.
It is not necessary for a person suffering from melanoma to exhibit all the five characteristics associated with ABCDE system. In fact, they may only show one or two of these characteristics.
Melanoma most commonly manifests itself in the following ways:
- It may impact an existing patch or mole on the skin
- In case of dark-skinned people, it may affect the light areas such as the palms and the base of the feet
- Melanoma may also appear under the nails of the hands and the toes
- The appearance of melanoma may vary from a dark streak to a thick patch, depending on the area it affects
- It may appear as a new age spot or a patch on the skin
- Darkening of skin around the nails of the toes and fingers, could also be a sign of melanoma
Warning Signs That Should Not Be Ignored
Most often, signs of melanoma are often painless. However, some melanomas may cause itching, bleeding, oozing or pain. It is advised that you rush to your nearest dermatologist in case you observe any of these warning signs. In addition, be vigilant in case you observe redness or swelling, burning sensation, tingling feeling or elevation in the affected area.