If you are diagnosed with skin cancer you may have been told that you have a particular type of skin cancer mole and this may be the first time you have become aware that there are different types. It is worth knowing what these are as different melanoma and skin cancer types are as they can have vastly different outcomes and treatments.
Most skin cancers are split into two main types: Basal cell carcinoma which accounts for around 75% of cases and is slow growing and non-spreading and Squamous cell carcinoma which is also slow growing and tend not to spread. However, the third most common type is malignant melanoma which is faster growing and has to be quickly treated. The types of melanoma are listed below.
Superficial spreading melanoma
It is thought that about 70% of all melanoma cancers diagnosed in the UK are of this type and they are very common in those aged over 50. You can spot this type of skin cancer because it will grow outwards across the skin and is much less likely to spread to other parts of your body. This type of skin cancer may change and begin to grow downwards – making it harder to treat, so these are best dealt with at an early stage.
These are usually new moles that develop very quickly but in a downwards fashion, into the deep layers of the skin. The top of the skin may be raised, but most of the mole is not seen, making it harder to spot. However, they are often darker in colour and even black and may develop in places where you wouldn’t normally be exposed to the sun.
Read more: Nodular melanoma symptoms
Lentigo maligna melanoma
Around 10% of all melanomas are this type and are slow growing skin cancers that usually occur in older people. This can take years to develop, growing slowly over the top lowers of the skin and is only described as a melanoma once it has started to grow downwards and forms lumps or nodules.
Acral Lentiginous melanoma
This type of skin cancer is most often found on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet and is most common in people with dark skin – however, it is generally very rare.
Around 5% of melanomas are of this type and they tend to present with no colour, but might be pink or red. This may make them harder to spot and therefore they can often be left later making them harder to treat.
As you can see the types of skin cancer moles are varied and can range from benign and easy to treat slow-growing growths, to more invasive and more deadly melanomas. Your doctor will tell you the best options for your particular mole – but the earlier you see changes and report them the better the outcome will be.