Most of us have heard of melanoma – a skin cancer that is caused by exposure to the radiation that comes from the sun or from sunbeds. But what is nodular melanoma and what are the most common nodular melanoma symptoms? How do we best keep an eye on our skin to ensure we pick up this form of skin cancer early enough to treat it?
What is nodular melanoma?
Nodular melanoma is characterised by skin cancer cells that grow downwards into the skin in a vertical fashion. This type of skin lesion will show up as a type of nodule or lump that has penetrated deeply into the skin and will have a lump above the skin.
In Australia and New Zealand, nodular melanoma accounts for around 15% of all cases of melanoma and is more common in fair-skinned people and in men. It is thought that changes in DNA may be responsible for the speed of growth of these nodules.
What are the most common nodular melanoma symptoms?
A nodular melanoma is more likely to spread rapidly and grow significantly more quickly than other types of skin cancer. In most cases, it will present as a mole that is larger than most and as a firm symmetrical lump that is dome-shaped. It can be either skin coloured or red but is most often black. It might look and feel like a wart with a crusty skin, but it can also be smooth. You could also experience some ulceration or bleeding.
Nodular melanoma differs from other melanoma types because it fails to meet the criteria that is often described as the ABCD lists of warning signs (Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Colour variation and large Diameter). Therefore it may be ignored for longer than the usual melanomas we are used to seeing.
Who is at risk of nodular melanoma?
Anyone who has skin that burns easily is more likely to get a nodular melanoma, but it is also seen more often in men and in those who have already had another type of melanoma. If you are a person who already has many moles on your skin, melanoma may be more likely to grow.
What do I do to prevent nodular melanoma?
The most obvious way to prevent any type of melanoma is to stay out of the sun and to always use sun protection when you are out. But checking your skin is also essential – especially where these fast-growing nodular moles are concerned.
Look for any new skin growths and keep a close watch on them. If they seem to be growing or they are changing in any way it is essential they are check by your doctor. You may also wish to see your doctor with any new growths, even if they are still small. The earlier you catch nodular melanoma the better.
What is the treatment for nodular melanoma symptoms?
In most cases, the nodule and the surrounding tissue is removed as a surgical procedure. This tissue is then checked to ensure that all of the cancer had been removed. Further surgery or treatment may be required if it is found that the cancer has spread. This may include the removal of lymph nodes. The prognosis is dependent on the depth and the size of the nodular melanoma symptoms and those with thicker nodules will need more invasive treatment and have lower rates of survival.