What is nodular melanoma?
Nodular melanoma is one of the five subgroups of melanoma. It usually develops in the cells of the skin that produce the pigment called melanin, which gives the skin its color. Approximately 15 percent of melanoma cases are nodular melanoma and is the most aggressive subgroup of melanoma. In America, nodular melanoma is the second most common form of melanoma.
Nodular Melanoma Symptoms
Compared with other types of skin cancer, nodular melanomas tend to quickly grow and spread. It often appears as a mole, but larger than usual ones. It also presents a dome-shaped symmetrical and firm lump, which often appear black in color or in other colors such as red and skin tone. A nodular melanoma may also feel like a wart with a smooth or crusty skin. Itching, bleeding, and ulceration may also be experienced by people with nodular melanoma.
Nodular melanoma is also different from other types of melanoma since it does not meet the ABCDE system (asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation, diameter, and evolution) of detecting melanomas. For this reason, a nodular melanoma can be ignored for a long time.
This type of melanoma is often compared to radial melanoma, which appears in the form of blemishes or moles. However, nodular melanoma usually occurs in unblemished skin areas rather than in a mole. A radial melanoma has more noticeable changes in its size, texture, shape, and color, while a nodular melanoma has color changes from black to shades of red and brown. To help people what to look for, the acronym EFG is used, wherein E stands for elevated, F for firm, and G for growing. The new blemish is most likely a nodular melanoma if it is elevated, firm, and growing. In two or three weeks, the blemish becomes more noticeable.
They are dome-shaped and the area where they occur may bleed or feel itchy. Sometimes, the doctor may look out for blood blisters or blemishes, which after a period of time, do not disappear, especially if the patient is not prone to developing them or had no injury.
The following symptoms are visible in this type of skin cancer:
- Color - An abnormal skin color is a symptom of cancer. In some cases, the color of the skin is blackish blue or reddish blue. Amelanotic melanomas are the ones that retain a person's skin tone. This skin discoloration is only spotted in approximately 5 percent of affected people since it can be quite difficult to notice.
- Border - Melanoma can also be characterized by the occurrence of fuzzy and hard moles that have uneven edges, which can be notched or scalloped.
- Asymmetry - A mole is benign if its two sides are similar. However, it is malignant if the two halves do not match.
- Size - Most moles grow a maximum of 6 millimeters. However, you should see a doctor if you see a rapidly growing mole or a larger mole.
- Growth - If a mole or a freckle is an ordinary one, then its growth usually stops after a few weeks. If a mole continues to grow even after 2-3 weeks, it could indicate melanoma.
- Elevation - The primary characteristic of a nodular melanoma is that it may initially appear on the skin as dome-like, a bump, or a thick spot. It is also a strong cause for concern if the elevation is increased. You should immediately contact your doctor if you notice that an abnormal skin formation along with a noticeable rising above the skin tissue level.
- Firmness - Usual moles and birthmarks are limp when you press them, which are totally the opposite when it comes to nodular melanomas.
Nodular melanoma can occur anywhere in the body. However, it often appears on parts of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the head, arms, legs, and trunk (belly, chest, and back).
Usually, skin cancer will cause a mutation in growths that have already developed or existed. However, a completely new growth is formed in the case of nodular melanomas. Within three weeks, this abnormal growth can fully develop and spread. A nodular melanoma can even progress to the advanced stage in a very short time. The advanced stage is very dangerous and deadly for the affected person. At this stage, treatment is very difficult.
Diagnosing this type of skin cancer is very crucial. A complete physical examination also needs to be thoroughly done. A skin biopsy can also be done in some cases.
Who gets melanoma?
Nodular melanoma can occur in anyone. However, it is reportedly more common in males than females. Men who are more than 50 years old are more prone to developing this disease. Other risk factors include:
- Spending more time in the sun
- Having pale skin that easily burns
- A history of skin cancer in the family
- Having several strange-looking moles
Treatment usually depends on the severity of cancer. Surgery is recommended by dermatologists if a very early stage of nodular melanoma is detected. It may only be the type of treatment you need at this point. However, nodular melanomas are often detected after cancer has already spread, which means a different type of treatment is needed. Treatment options include:
- Lymph Node Surgery: When cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes, a surgical procedure to remove the lymph nodes may be performed.
- Chemotherapy: In this type of treatment, medications are orally taken or injected into a vein. Chemotherapy drugs travel through the bloodstream and get rid of cancer cells.
- Radiation Therapy: This treatment involves the use of powerful X-rays to kill cancer cells. Sometimes, radiation therapy is used after the surgical removal of lymph nodes to prevent the recurrence of melanoma.
- Immunotherapy: It is a type of cancer treatment, wherein it uses the body's immune system to fight cancer. This treatment is often used in people with advanced melanomas.
- Targeted Therapy: This type of cancer treatment uses drugs that target specific genes and proteins to help stop the growth and spread of cancer cells.