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Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that affects melanocytes, the cells that make melanin. Melanoma happens when melanocytes change and grow out of control. 

The cell changes usually start in the surface of the skin, either in a mole or in normal skin. If not caught early, it can spread to other parts of your body.

Types of Melanoma

Nodular Melanoma

Nodular melanomas are fast growing. If they are not removed, they can quickly grow downwards into the deeper layers of your skin.Nodular melanomas usually appear as a changing, raised lump on the skin. They might be black or red. They most often appear your head, neck, chest or back. The lump often bleeds or oozes.

Lentigo Maligna Melanoma

About 1 in 10 melanomas is a lentigo maligna melanoma. These melanomas are most common in people age 65 and over. They can happen if you've spent a lot of time outdoors. They develop slowly over years and appear in areas that are often exposed to the sun, such as your face and scalp.

Lentigo maligna melanomas are flat and brown. They develop sideways in the surface layers of skin. They look like a freckle but are usually larger, darker and stand out more. They can gradually get bigger and may change shape. At a later stage, they may grow downwards into the deeper layers of skin and can form lumps (nodules).

Acral Lentiginous Melanoma

Acral lentiginous melanomas are rare. You usually get them on your hands and feet. They can also develop around a nail, most often your thumbnail or big toenail.

Acral lentiginous melanomas are the most common type of melanoma in people with black or brown skin. But they can occur in people with any skin type.

Amelanotic Melanoma

Amelanotic melanomas are rare. They usually have little or no colour. But sometimes they are pink or red, or have light brown or grey edges.

Get your moles checked today

Whole body documentation for early detection of skin changes

What causes Melanoma?

Most melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or a sunbed.

Certain things can increase your chances of developing melanoma, such as having:

  • lots of moles or freckles
  • pale white skin that burns easily and never tans
  • red or blonde hair
  • a close family member who has had melanoma