February 23, 2017 | Stephen Fine, Founder and President
Radial and Nodular Melanoma
Skin cancer is the world’s most common cancer, and its worst form is melanoma. Today, we’d like to talk a little bit about the two main types of melanoma: radial and nodular. You wouldn’t want to develop either, as both can end up being just as fatal. However, of the two, nodular is worse.
More often than not, nodular melanoma will present itself on an area of skin that was previously free of blemishes. Less common, but still feasible, is for it to piggyback onto a mole that was already there.
So, what do they look like? To borrow from one of our own two highly-informative websites, they’re often dome-shaped. Also, “The colors of nodular melanomas are usually black, blue-black, dark brown, or brown-red. However, occasionally they are red, pink, grey, flesh-tone, or light to medium brown.”
A primary difference between nodular melanoma and other skin cancers is that it starts under the skin, and as such is harder to detect at its outset. As you’ll read many times to come on this blog, as well as any other material on skin cancer that’s worth its salt, nothing is more vital to potentially curing a melanoma patient than the speed of its discovery and treatment. The last thing anyone would want to do is disregard the initial warning signs of a melanoma that gives itself a head start.
To better assist people with keeping track of what to look for, an easy way has been developed to remember the properties of a nodular melanoma. Simply use the sequential letters EFG: E = Elevated, F = Firm, G = Growing.
Once we reach adulthood, our chance of incurring a nodular melanoma drops to around 20%. However, in our pre-teen and adolescent years, those numbers hover between 40% and 60%. If you’re a parent, we urge you to keep these figures in mind and talk with your child(ren) about the importance of practicing sun-safety.
Radial melanoma presents visibly on the surface of the skin from its very beginning. It spreads slower than the nodular version but, if ignored long enough, it too can- and often does -lead to the same ill-fated result.
Radials are asymmetrical in shape, grow larger than a pencil eraser, and can feature an array of different colors. They may also impact an existing mole. So, it’s important to alert your doctor or dermatologist if you notice a familiar mole begin to get larger, change color, texture, become itchy and/or start secreting fluids.
As radials progress, their hues turn darker. When a melanoma begins to transform on our skin from horizontal to vertical, it’s like turning over an hourglass. Sooner or later, time will run out. Time is of the essence, and monthly self-examinations are paramount.
The reason Melanoma Awareness organizations focus so much on encouraging self-examinations is because most melanomas aren’t discovered first by doctors. They’re discovered by their patients.
Of course, with that said, unless you have a Doctorate of Dermatology hanging on your wall, don’t try to self-diagnose. A skin blemish may look very similar to a picture of melanoma you find online, yet turn out to be nothing at all. Conversely, a new mark that appears normal may be anything but. Please let your doctor make the determination.
To read a melanoma overview that’s been conveniently condensed onto one page, please click here. The more you learn about melanoma, the safer you can make yourself- and anyone else you may be responsible for.
Please help us to help you. Thank you.