Lentigo maligna melanoma is a relatively rare type of skin cancer, which tends to affect older people. It develops from lentigo maligna, also known as the melanotic freckle of Hutchinson which is a type of slow growing melanoma.
This cancer typically begins on the skin surface on body parts that are exposed to too much heat, which appear to include the face, forearms and back. When the cancer goes below the skin surface, it becomes melanoma lentigo maligna.
Lentigo maligna melanoma is an aggressive form of cancer that grows faster than malignant lentigo, and can spread to other areas of the body.
In this report, we discuss the signs and symptoms of malignant lentigo melanoma, as well as the causes and risk factors. We will also discuss its signs and the treatment options available.
Causes and risk factors
The most common risk factors for lentigo maligna melanoma include:
- chronic exposure to sunlight, which causes skin damage
- a history of sunburns
- lighter skin
- the tendency to form harmless patches of darkened skin, known as solar lentigines
- a history of nonmelanoma skin cancers
- certain genetic mutations, most commonly P53 mutations
If a person is concerned about a new mole that has appeared on his face, neck or forearms, a doctor should see him.
If a person finds that the shape, color or size of an existing mole has changed they should seek medical advice.
In many cases a physician should refer a individual for further examination to a specialist.
A doctor will often refer a person for the diagnosis to a dermatologist.
A dermatologist will help differentiate between the development of a benign skin, like a mole, and more serious conditions.
Usually, the specialist would ask the person about their symptoms and what they have experienced over time. We will also analyze the skin, including the area of skin the patient is worried about.
A dermatologist may in some cases make a preliminary diagnosis based on a physical exam. We can recommend removing some of the potentially affected skin area as a precaution before checking for malignant lentigo melanoma.
In other cases, a dermatologist can perform a biopsy and take a small sample of the suspected cancer for sending to a laboratory. There, it will be examined by technicians to determine whether cancer is present.
If a person has lentigo malignant melanoma a doctor may determine the treatment options that are suitable. These will vary according to cancer stage and how far it has spread.
Care measures include:
- curing the cancer
- preventing recurrence of the cancer
- preserving the appearance of the skin
The usual treatment involves removing development. A surgeon must remove the infected skin layer and the healthy surrounding skin for an extra 5 millimetres.
The growth is sometimes on an area of the body where removal would be difficult. In such cases, a doctor can choose another treatment option, such as:
- imiquimod cream (Aldara)
Lentigo maligna and lentigo maligna melanoma are both curable types of skin cancer, with sufficiently early diagnosis and treatment.
The secret to recovery is to detect the cancer as early as possible to prevent it spreading to other areas of the body. The outlook for a person in such circumstances is generally positive.
Practicing protection at sun helps prevent the incidence of lentigo malignant melanoma.
Some practical advices to prevent damage to the sun include:
- avoiding spending prolonged periods in the sun
- wearing a hat and protective gear to avoid sun exposure
- wearing and regularly reapplying sunblock that is SPF 15 or higher
- taking care to avoid sunburns
- refraining from using tanning beds
Lentigo malignant melanoma is an infectious stage of skin cancer, however it can be treated if it is diagnosed early by a doctor or dermatologist. Therefore, a person should take early signs or symptoms seriously, and seek medical advice.
The cancer has still not spread in its early form, lentigo maligna. It means that when a doctor treats lentigo maligna melanoma, the cancer has spread from the skin to other tissue in the body.