Skin Cancer Pictures: Melanoma

Melanoma Pictures - Introduction

Young woman with sunburn tanlines, mid section
Dougal Waters/The Image Bank/Getty Images

A layer of cells in the basal layer of the epidermis, called melanocytes, produces a brown-black skin pigment (melanin) that determines skin and hair color. Melanin also helps protect against the damaging rays of the sun. When cells grow in a controlled manner, the resulting lesion is benign and is commonly referred to as a mole or nevus. Sometimes, however, melanocytes grow out of control and become a cancerous and life-threatening melanoma. If you see a new mole or a mole that changes its appearance, contact your physician immediately.

Melanoma Pictures - Superficial Spreading

Melanoma - Superficial Spreading
Photo © A.D.A.M.

Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type of melanoma. It is usually flat and irregular in shape and color, with varying shades of black and brown. It may occur at any age or body site, and is most common in Caucasians.

Melanoma Pictures - Raised, Multi-colored

Melanoma - Raised, Multi-colored
Photo © A.D.A.M.

Melanoma tumors are often colored red, whitish, and blue (to blue-black) all in the same lesion. This lesion has multiple such colors.

Melanoma Pictures - Raised, Dark Lesion

Melanoma - Raised, Dark Lesion
Photo © A.D.A.M.

Note the presence of multiple colors within this melanoma lesion. This is a common appearance for a melanoma.

Melanoma Pictures - Malignant

Melanoma - Malignant
Photo © A.D.A.M.

Treatment for malignant melanoma depends on many factors, including the patient's general health and whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs. If caught early, melanoma can be cured. The risk of the cancer coming back increases with the depth of the tumor -- deeper tumors are more likely to come back. If the cancer has spread to lymph nodes, there is a greater chance that the melanoma will return. For melanoma that has spread to other tissues and organs, the cure rate is low.

Melanoma Pictures - On the Fingernail

Melanoma - On the Fingernail
Photo © A.D.A.M.

Melanomas ​beneath the fingernail appear as a black or bluish black discoloration. This is called "acral lentiginous melanoma" and is the least common form of melanoma. It usually occurs on the palms, soles, or under the nails and is more common in African-Americans.

Melanoma Pictures - Lentigo Maligna

Melanoma - Lentigo Maligna
Photo © A.D.A.M.

Lentigo maligna melanoma (sometimes called Hutchinson's freckle) usually occurs in elderly people and is marked by flat, mottled, tan-to-brown freckle-like spots with irregular borders. These lesions often appear on the face or other sun-exposed areas and typically enlarge slowly for 5 to 15 years before becoming invasive.

Melanoma Pictures - Clark Level III

Melanoma - Clark Level III
Photo © A.D.A.M.

The Clark level describes how far a melanoma has penetrated into the skin. This is a level III melanoma in which the cancer involves most of the upper dermis.

Melanoma Pictures - Clark Level IV

Melanoma - Clark Level IV
Photo © A.D.A.M.

This is an example of a Clark level IV melanoma in which the cancer has spread from the epidermis through the upper dermis and involves the lower dermis.

Melanoma Pictures - On Neck

Melanoma - On Neck
Photo © A.D.A.M.

This melanoma on the neck is variously colored with a darkly pigmented central area and irregular borders. Prognosis in melanoma is best defined by its depth measured after it's surgically removed.

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