Lentigo maligna melanoma: what is it?

Lentigo maligna melanoma, also known as Hutchinson’s melanotic freckle, is classified as an in situ forms of melanoma.
Lentigo maligna melanoma

This means that it is only present in the skin, specifically the epidermis, and hasn’t yet spread to other areas of the body. Once it has spread deeper and become invasive, it is considered lentigo maligna melanoma.

It usually appears as a flat or slightly raised speckled tan, brown or dark brown patch. According to Cancer Research UK, about 10% of melanomas are lentigo maligna.

Where is lentigo maligna melanoma found?

This type of melanoma is most common in fair-skinned elderly people and most often seen on the head and neck, but it can be found anywhere on the skin and in all ages and skin types. It is similar to superficial spreading melanoma in that it usually begins as a group of malignant cells that spread on the surface of the skin. Over time, lentigo maligna can worsen and move to lower layers of the skin, forming nodules or lumps.

The different types of melanoma

What causes lentigo maligna melanoma?

This type of melanoma develops as a result of chronic sun damage, typically slowly evolving over many years. Sun exposure is the largest risk factor for developing lentigo maligna melanoma but genetic factors can also play a role. If a close relative has had melanoma, other family members are more susceptible.

What are the symptoms?

Lentigo maligna will usually appear as a mottled brown patch. It is typically one that has been present on the skin for a while and has gone unnoticed. The patch may darken and enlarge over time and could later develop lumps, or bleed, crust or ooze.

Make sure you know the symptoms of melanoma and perform monthly skin checks to catch lentigo maligna melanoma early.

If caught before spreading deeper into the skin, lentigo maligna is highly treatable through surgery.

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