Acral lentiginous melanoma may not be a well-known disease but it is a deadly form of skin cancer. In case you are unaware about this ailment, we are here to help you get more familiarized and help you understand every aspect of this unusual skin disease.
What Is Lentiginous Melanoma?
Melanoma is skin cancer where Lentiginous melanoma is slow and progressive form of melanoma. This variant of skin cancer is commonly found on the limbs and trunk of the body.
Lentiginous melanoma is diagnosed when the malignant cells are present in-situ and it usually signifies that it is a low risk of invasive melanoma. This type of melanoma has been classified as a form of superficial spreading melanoma and lentigo maligna.
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What Is Acral Lentiginous Melanoma?
A specific form of lentiginous melanoma, Acral lentiginous melanoma appears underneath the nail beds, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. A relatively rare type of skin cancer, however it largely affects people with medium and dark colored skin. Making it very unusual in the sense that people with high levels of melanin (dark skined individauleas) are often protected from skin cancer, but in the rare case, Acral lentiginous melanoma can affect everyone.
Acral lentiginous melanoma is a category of skin cancer that shows up on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, or under the nails.
Signs And Symptoms
Such cancerous diseases are easy to spot. Here are tell-tale signs of Acral lentiginous melanoma –
- Acral lentiginous melanoma is apparent on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands.
- The mark is oddly shaped and the color can vary from person to person. They can be black, gray, brown or just like tan marks with irregular borders.
- It appears underneath the nail as dark streak. Most cases of this disease occur on the big thumb or toe.
Other warning signs of Acral lentiginous melanoma may include –
- A nail streak that appears without any injury or damage to the nail.
- The mark on palm or sole is growing, changing in color and/or size.
- There is an extra growth of skin that is elevated and thick on the sole or palm respectively.
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Causes of Acral Lentiginous Melanoma?
Unfortunately, there aren’t any known or proven causes for Acral lentiginous melanoma. Researchers have found that unlike most melanoma or skin cancerous diseases, Acral lentiginous melanoma is not caused or related to sun exposure.
In some people, it has been discovered to have a genetic factor. Those who have relatives with Acral lentiginous melanoma have higher risk of being disease-ridden.
Some scientists believe that an injury to the hand or foot may cause an Acral lentiginous melanoma lesion.
Tests And Diagnosis
The step to diagnosing Acral lentiginous melanoma is by examining the affected area. Most melanoma diseases look similar to one another; therefore a thorough examination must be conducted.
A doctor might use an instrument called dermatoscope to inspect the skin at a closer range. If there is even a slightest possibility of melanoma, then the next is biopsy.
Biopsy is performed by using a needle to remove small sample from the tumor. The sample will be placed under a microscope for a closer look to analyze how invasive the cancer is and how the cells are behaving.
If the patient tests positive for Acral lentiginous melanoma, then the doctor will assign a stage (depending on the results) and determine the treatment plan. Like any other type of Melanoma, Acral lentiginous melanoma has 3 stages –
- Tumor – Ranging from 0-4 to denote the size of tumor. Low numbers indicate smaller tumor.
- Nodes – Ranging from 0-3 to determine whether lymph nodes are been affected or not.
- Metastasis – A way to understand if the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. If it has, then it can be fatal.
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Because Acral lentiginous melanoma is comparatively singular, it is poorly understood. Treatment for this type of skin cancer involves removing the lesions/ marks along with some extra skin around the lesion. If any lymph nodes are compromised, then they might be removed during the surgery.
For most people a simple surgery of cutting the lesions is sufficient to cure the cancer. But if the Acral lentiginous melanoma has progressed beyond a certain stage, then other treatments will be necessary.
Doctors may suggest a drug called aldesleukin (Proleukin) to treat Acral lentiginous melanoma if the cancerous cells do not stop growing.
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For something as life threatening as a deadly skin cancer, prevention is of utmost importance. One can always remember the following tips to protect and ensure the safety of their skin –
- Wear sunscreen – Acral lentiginous melanoma may not be related to sun exposure, however exposure to UV rays is dangerous and can activate cancerous cells under the skin. Remember to re-apply sunscreen every 2-3 hours and stay in shaded areas.
- Diagnosis – Since there is no actual cause for Acral lentiginous melanoma. The next best solution would be to get an annual skin exam performed. This would promptly notify the doctor and the treatments can commence immediately.
Are Lentigines cancerous?
Not necessarily, several skin lesions such as freckles, moles, benign lentigines and skin tags are almost always benign (non-cancerous). Out of the various types of lentigines, moles are often the most cancerous and need to be examined.
Who gets Lentiginous melanoma?
Anyone can get lentiginous melanoma, which means dark skinned people who are usually safe from other types of melanoma can end up with lentiginous melanoma. It is a rare and uncommon form of skin cancer.
What is Lentiginous hyperplasia?
The proliferation of melanocytes showing nuclear atypicality is Atypical Lentiginous Melanocytic Hyperplasia, especially the scattering of single cells in the epidermis. It is not an invasive melanoma.
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Lentigines vs Freckles
Freckles are lighter in color and fade away in the winter, whereas lentigines are darker and do not lighten in the winter.
Acral Lentiginous Melanoma Prognosis
Based on data in terms of population, Acral lentiginous melanoma is a rare melonama subtype. The prognosis worsens for people belonging to Asian/Pacific Islanders and Hispanic whites as they have the lowest survival rates than any other groups. This may happen if the people are not aware of the danger and it may be diagnosed at a later stage especially if the tumor is too thick.
Acral lentiginous melanoma is something to look out for especially if you have a lot of freckles and moles scattered on the soles of your feet and palms of your hands as well as your nails. Make an appointment with your dermatologist to ensure the safety of your health and skin.