How serious is nodular melanoma?

Healthy skin may be a thing wanted by females as it makes them look beautiful and young. Recent years have shown a great increase of awareness of taking care of the skin in male population. Now, both male and females are on the hunt to ensure their skin is healthy. However, certain skin conditions may not be easily reversed into a healthy one such as nodular melanoma. As a matter of fact, nodular melanoma is said to be one of the deadliest skin issues in the world. In this DoctorOnCall’s article, we will learn more on nodular melanoma.

There’s an invasive form of melanoma called nodular melanoma. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops by melanocytes (a type of skin cells that give pigment or colours to skin). Nodular melanoma accounts for 15% of all melanomas. In nodular melanomas, the cells grow downwards through the skin known as vertical growth. It can penetrate deep through the skin only within a few months after its initial appearance. This explains why it can become invasive rapidly.

Nodular melanoma is more common in very fair skin but it may also occur in those who are easily tanned. It occasionally occurs in brown or dark coloured skin. Most patients are over the age of 50 when they are diagnosed with the skin condition. It is more common in male compared to females. Apart from these being the risk factor making a person at risk for nodular melanoma, those with many moles and funny-looking moles are also at risk for developing nodular melanoma. It is not known what could be causing the melanocytes to become malignant but it is likely to be due to changes to DNA that have caused genetic mutations.

Nodular melanoma can be found on any part of the body but is most commonly to be seen on skin that is exposed to the sun such as head and neck. Nodular melanoma resembles the growth of blood vessels. It is presented as dark brown to black bumps or dome shaped lumps. It may also appear as amelanotic which means the skin lesion is pink or light brown. Amelanotic may also be in white or red colour and even may be essentially clear. The surfaces of the melanoma may be smooth or rough. The skin lesion may be itchy or stings. Nodular melanoma will begin to cause ulcer, crust and bleed after a period of one to several months of its growth.

Nodular melanoma can be suspected with the use of dermoscopy to look for signs of malignancies which are often under the skin surfaces. To confirm diagnosis, doctors usually perform a biopsy procedure of taking a small sample of skin tissue to be examined under a microscope.

Removal of the nodular melanoma through surgery is the initial treatment. In case of nodular melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body, further treatments such as surgeries to remove affected organs such as the lymph nodes, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy is recommended. These treatments may be combined to rapidly eradicate the cancerous cells.

You may wonder, is nodular melanoma that serious since it is only skin issues. Yes, without a doubt, it is a serious medical condition. Nodular melanoma is dangerous as it grows rapidly through the skin. This eventually affects the surrounding tissue, bone and lymph nodes within weeks to a few months. Nodular melanoma accounts for the 2nd common form of melanoma and even though it is only responsible for 15% of the total melanoma cases, nodular melanoma causes death in 40% of all melanoma cases. This shows that nodular melanoma is a serious condition far more than just the skin lesion and there is a great need for getting regular screening for skin cancer.

Risk for the cancer cells to spread and survival rate depends on many factors. One of the ways to measure this possibility is measured by the melanoma thickness when it is removed by surgery. Metastasis or spreading to other parts of the body is rare for melanomas below 0.75 mm in size and melanomas of more than 4 mm will have metastasis chances of about 40%. Nodular melanoma that is yet to spread by the time of the treatment, has a high survival rate of almost 100% percent. However, when nodular melanoma already found to be spread to other parts of the body, chances to survive dipped to 27%.

The best way to prevent nodular melanomas and many other kinds of skin cancer is to take steps in protecting skin against the UV rays, especially from the sun. Using sunscreen correctly and properly can mitigate the risk of sunburn and risk for skin cancers. Wearing protective clothing and sunglasses can be another way of protecting skin from the sunrays. You may want to try being under the sun when it is strikingly hot such as in peak hours.