Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer because, except for certain rare forms of cancer, it can spread to the lymph nodes and penetrate the internal organs. It is estimated that it accounts for 77% of deaths related to skin cancer.

Dermatologists believe that deaths from melanoma can be dramatically reduced if it was recognized early. There are different types of melanoma; the four most common types account for almost 100% of diagnosed cases.

Four Types of Melanoma:

Superficial Spreading (70% of diagnosed melanoma)

This type of melanoma can occur at any age. It is the leading cause of skin cancer death among young adults. Superficial spreading melanoma usually starts first in the legs for females. For males, it is likely to develop first between the pelvis and the neck. However, this does not necessary mean that males won’t get it on their legs or that females won't get it on on their trunks because superficial spreading melanoma can occur at any skin surface.

Nodular (around 15% of diagnosed melanoma)

Nodular melanoma is very aggressive. It can occur at any age and the incidence of this condition is higher among males. Nodular melanoma can appear anywhere on the skin surface. It differs from other types of melanoma because it tends to grow in thickness rather than in diameter. It may not have a visible stage of growth and it may arise from an existing mole or a spot where lesions did not exist.

Lentigo Maligna (10% of diagnosed melanoma)

People are most vulnerable to lentigo maligna melanoma after they reach middle-age. This condition usually occurs on sun-damaged skin on the face. It can be mistaken as a sun spot at its earliest stages and can go undetected for years.

Acral Lentiginous (5% of diagnosed melanoma)

Occurring most frequently among the middle-aged and the elderly, this melanoma is usually mistaken as a sun spot during its most treatable stage as well. Acral lentiginous is the most common type of melanoma among Asians and people with darker skin types.

As you can see, two types of melanoma can be traced directly to sun exposure. To minimize this risk, it may be a good idea to use tanning beds if you simply cannot go without a tan. Generally, UV exposure is lower in tanning beds as opposed to sun bathing.

Comprehensive Resources to Melanoma

Malignant Melanoma: Learn to Recognize a Killer

Medicine Plus: Melanoma

National Cancer Institute: Melanoma

American Academy of Dermatology: Malignant Melanoma

Diagnosing Melanoma

Skin Cancer Net: Four Types of Melanoma

American Cancer Society: How is Melanoma Diagnosed?


Melanoma Images and Pictures

VisualDxHealth: Melanoma

Melanoma: What It Looks Like

Skin Cancer: Skin Types