Melanoma is a type of cancer that originates in the cells that produce pigment (color) in the skin, eyes, and other parts of the body. It develops when the DNA in these pigment-producing cells becomes damaged, causing the cells to grow and divide uncontrollably.
Melanoma is often categorized into four main subtypes based on its location and growth patterns:
- Superficial spreading melanoma: This is the most common type of melanoma and usually starts as a flat or slightly raised lesion that gradually becomes more irregular in shape and color over time.
- Nodular melanoma: This type of melanoma usually grows quickly and appears as a raised, dark-colored bump.
- Lentigo maligna melanoma: This type of melanoma typically develops in older individuals and is most commonly found on sun-damaged skin in areas such as the face, neck, and arms.
- Acral lentiginous melanoma: This type of melanoma occurs on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, or under the nails, and is more common in individuals with darker skin.
Melanoma can be a serious and potentially life-threatening disease, especially if it is not detected and treated early. It is often diagnosed by examining suspicious skin lesions and conducting a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy, depending on the stage and location of the cancer. Regular skin exams and protecting your skin from sun exposure are important steps in preventing melanoma.