Skin cancer, particularly melanoma, is a prevalent concern in the United States. However, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the five-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent when it’s detected in its early stages. While regular skin checks and sun protection are crucial, being vigilant about changes in your skin can make a significant difference in catching melanoma early. In addition to the ABCDEs of melanoma, there are lesser-known signs that you should familiarize yourself with. These rare indicators should receive prompt medical attention.
New Spots on the Soles of Your Feet or Inner Hands
Although individuals with darker skin tones have a lower risk of skin cancer, it’s important to understand that anyone, regardless of race or skin tone, can get melanoma. The soles of the feet and the insides of the hands are particularly vulnerable, especially if they are exposed to sunburn. Notable cases, such as Bob Marley’s fatal melanoma originating from a lesion on his toe, highlight the importance of examining these areas regularly.
Streaks on Fingernails and Toenails
Melanoma is commonly associated with asymmetrical moles, but it can also manifest as long, dark streaks beneath fingernails and toenails. Our dermatologists stress the significance of removing nail polish before skin examinations to facilitate the detection of potential nail melanoma. Any changes to your nails that don’t resolve on their own, especially if they look like a dark, vertical stripe on the nail, should be seen by a dermatologist.
Lesions on Eyelids, Lips, or Genitals
Melanoma can also develop as new skin lesions on the eyelids, lips, or genitals, referred to as mucosal melanoma. Unlike moles, these lesions are typically darker and more noticeable. Regular self-examinations and promptly consulting a dermatologist can aid in the early detection and treatment of this form of melanoma.
“Amelanotic melanoma” or “pink melanoma” is a rare variant of the deadly cancer that presents as a mole without visible pigmentation. Typically appearing as a small pink or white spot, this form of melanoma can grow rapidly. Dr. Ko advises paying attention to any unusual spots that might shine under light or appear distinct. Early detection is crucial, as seeking medical evaluation for colorless moles can lead to timely intervention and better outcomes.
Melanoma on the Eyeball
While exceedingly rare, melanoma can occur on the eyeball, representing less than 1% of all cases. While a rarer form of the melanoma, it is the most common type of eye cancer. A dark spot on the iris or conjunctiva, blurred or distorted vision, blind spots, flashing, or a change in the size of the pupil can be signs of the disease. These symptoms are not always present, and many cases are found during a routine eye exam.
Skin checks and annual skin exams with your dermatologist are the best way to take control of your skin health and catch skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable. At Arizona Dermatology, we believe in providing our patients with the knowledge they need to get and stay healthy. These less common signs of melanoma require immediate attention. Of course, if you have any skin concerns at all, we urge you to make an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists.