Beyond the Dark Spot

The lesser-known faces of melanoma

In the discourse on skin cancer, melanoma is often depicted by its most recognisable form; a dark, ugly-looking mole. However, this stereotype barely scratches the surface. Several melanoma variants, such as nodular melanoma and desmoplastic melanoma and those often referred to as featureless melanoma and amelanotic melanoma, defy this common portrayal, making them particularly elusive and dangerous.

This photo is of an intermediate thickness nodular amelanotic melanoma on the forearm of a patient at Melbourne Skin & Dermatology.  This photo has been used with written consent from the patient and may not be reproduced in any format or media.

Nodular melanoma, for instance, may manifest as a firm, round lump on the skin, often red or pink, rather than the typical black or brown. It can mimic a pimple or an insect bite – but often does not resolve over an expected time period.  Desmoplastic melanoma may appear as a scar or thickened area of skin, easily mistaken for benign skin conditions. 

The importance of vigilant sun protection, regular professional skin checks, and self-examinations cannot be overstated in our fight against melanoma. Sunscreen, protective clothing, and wide-brimmed hats are your day-to-day armour against the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, which could trigger or exacerbate skin malignancies.

Regular self-examinations, perhaps aided by a partner and a mirror for hard-to-see areas, can be a significant advantage. Familiarity with your skin and any changes that occur over time, no matter how trivial they may seem, could be crucial for early detection.

Engaging in routine skin checks enhances the safety net.  Experienced doctors can detect subtle changes or unusual appearances on your skin which could signify a lurking skin cancer.

In the battle against melanoma, the narrative needs to shift from merely watching out for dark moles to a more comprehensive, proactive approach. This includes daily sun protection, regular professional check-ups, self-examinations, and leveraging specialised services. Understanding that melanoma wears many disguises is a step toward earlier detection and improved outcomes.

With every step, we move closer to unmasking melanoma’s many faces, demystifying its dangers, and improving our defences against this skin cancer.

Melbourne Skin & Dermatology now offers skin cancer checks with Dr Sarah Sun without the need for a referral.  You can request an appointment with Dr Sun by clicking here.

Purpose of this information

The information presented on this website and in this article is for general information and example purposes only, does not contain health advice specific for users and must not be relied on for that purpose.  Please see your GP, dermatologist or other health care professional for specific advice.

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