Each year 160,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed worldwide, according to data from the Association Against Cancer. In Spain, it is estimated that it affects 3,600 people each year. It is striking how, unlike other types of cancer, the incidence of melanoma has increased in recent decades.
Type of melanoma
Unlike a few years ago, the classification that is currently most useful in deciding treatment is based on the different molecular alterations of melanoma (BRAF, NRAS, ckit, GNAQ, GNA11, etc).
Classically and from a morphological point, melanomas were classified as:
Melanoma of superficial extension. Although it can originate in any part of the body, it is common in the back and lower limbs of women and in the trunk of men. Regarding the appearance is flat or irregular in shape and color and with varying shades of black and brown.
- Lentigo maligna melanoma. It usually appears in elderly people and often in those who have skin badly damaged by the sun's rays. They are found on the face, neck and arms and cover large areas of skin, without relief and have a brown tone with brown areas.
- Acro lentiginous melanoma (MLA). It is the most infrequent form of the four types and manifests itself in the palms of the hands and feet or, even, under the nails.
- Nodular melanoma. It is the most aggressive of the four. It usually starts with a raised area of dark blue-black or bluish-red color, although they may appear without color. It is the second most frequent and usually arises in trunk, head or neck.
Detection and prevention of melanoma
Normally an eye inspection is not enough to diagnose melanoma. It often happens that benign skin lesions are confused with this type of skin cancer and vice versa, that malignant lesions can have a benign appearance.
There are some signs that may suggest the appearance of melanoma skin cancer, such as changes in color, growth, itching or bleeding of a mole. Early diagnosis, in less advanced stages of the disease, is curative, and nowadays it is possible to perform it through specific dermatological technology. The recommendation that all experts usually make to prevent melanoma is to avoid sun exposure.