What is Nodular Melanoma?
Nodular Melanoma is perhaps the most aggressive variant of skin cancer. This is because Nodular Melanoma spreads very quickly and aggressively and in many cases they are not even observed until it has spread to other organs. The appearance of Nodular Melanoma is more like a bump that sticks out of the surface of the skin.[1,2,3]
This bump is medically termed as polypoid. These bumps are generally dark in color but they can also be blue or gray and in some cases even white. The bumps may at times look similar to a mushroom complete with even a stem. The surface of the bumps can be crusted or smooth. These bumps may become dry, cracked, and sometimes bleed. As a rough estimate, around 15-30% of all cases of melanomas are Nodular Melanomas which makes it the second most common type of melanoma.[1,2,3]
What Causes Nodular Melanoma?
Nodular Melanoma as a whole does not have a known cause and scientists have still not been able to identify as to why some people have it and others not. However, there are a variety of risk factors for this condition which include gender. It has been observed that this condition is seen more in males than females with age over 50 years even though there is no age barrier for it.[2,3]
The biggest risk factor for any type of skin cancer including Nodular Melanoma is excessive exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. These rays cause damage to the specific DNA which is responsible for the growth and division of the skin cells. This results in the cells growing and dividing abnormally causing skin cancer. It has also been seen that Nodular Melanoma occurs more in people with a personal and family history of this condition.[2,3]
Other risk factors include people who are fair skinned. It is also seen in people who have a lot of moles in their body. Nodular Melanoma can appear on any part of the body but is seen more commonly in the chest, legs, back, and face.[2,3]
What are the Symptoms of Nodular Melanoma?
As stated above, Nodular Melanoma appears as a growth which looks similar to a bump that sticks out from the skin surface. These bumps can be blue, black, white, or have the same color as that of the skin. It resembles a mushroom which has a stalk or a stem. These bumps can be dry, crusty and even at times bleed. It is quite easy for a person to feel and observe the bump seen with Nodular Melanoma.
How is Nodular Melanoma Treated?
With regard to treatment, it depends on the stage of the cancer and the extent to which it has spread. The age and overall health status of the person also determines the treatment approach of a person with Nodular Melanoma. The American Cancer Society mentions surgery as the most preferred treatment for Nodular Melanoma. The surgery is done under general anesthesia and involves removal of the cancerous bump or nodule.
In addition to the diseased portion of the skin, a part of the healthy tissue will also be removed around the nodule to eliminate the cancer completely. Nodular Melanoma is a condition that can be prevented to some extent if proper precautions are followed especially when out in the sun in a warm weather. The best way to do this is by using sunscreen on the exposed areas of the body to prevent the UV rays of the sun to pierce the body.
Additionally, protective clothing and sunglasses are also good measures to protect the skin from the dangerous UV rays of the sun. It is also recommended that a person should avoid going out in the sun between 12:00 in the afternoon and 4:00 in the evening in the summer months when the UV rays are at their strongest.
With regard to prognosis, as stated, Nodular Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. It spreads and grows much faster than other forms of skin cancers and even the diagnosis of this condition is confirmed at a much later stage. In case the cancer is detected early and treatment is started, then the prognosis is quite good at somewhere around 99%. This means that less than 2% of people with Nodular Melanoma cannot survive for at least 5 years after the diagnosis of Nodular Melanoma. In cases of s stage 3 Nodular Melanoma, the survival rate is about 64% in 5 years.
However, this number decreases markedly for stage 4 cancers in which the 5 year survival rate is close to 20%. Research is still ongoing on finding ways to improve the prognosis of people with Nodular Melanoma.
In conclusion, Nodular Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. This type of cancer spreads to the adjoining areas very rapidly. A classic Nodular Melanoma will look like a bump coming out of the surface of the skin. These bumps may be smooth or rough and at times become dry, cracking and may bleed.[1,2,3]
Ultraviolet rays of the sun are the primary cause of any form of skin cancer including Nodular Melanoma. This condition is normally seen in males above the age of 50. The treatment of Nodular Melanoma involves surgery with removal of the bump in its entirety. Additional treatments in the form of radiation and will be needed in cases where the cancer has spread to adjoining areas.[1,2,3]
The overall prognosis of Nodular Melanoma is quite good if the condition is diagnosed and treated in its initial stages. Delays in diagnosis and treatment decrease the prognosis significantly. However, there are ways to prevent skin cancers by following measures to protect the skin from the UV rays of the sun like putting on sunscreen and sunglasses and avoiding going out in the sun in the afternoons especially during the summer months to prevent Nodular Melanoma.[1,2,3]