Dr Howard Stevens, a consultant at Skin Care Network, explains the importance of seeking early diagnosis for nodular melanoma.
Whilst they appear different to a specialist, types of melanoma can look quite similar, with the exception of Nodular Malignant Melanoma. The key point to note is this variant not only looks but acts in a different way.
Compared to superficial melanoma, nodular malignant melanoma can grow five times as quickly. The malignant cells also tend to proliferate directly downwards, heading deeper, rather than spreading.
Neither is this damage clear on the surface of the skin. What may begin by looking like a new freckle, or insect bite, will often grow into a red, or black bump but not in proportion to the wider effect.
Around 15% of melanoma are nodular malignant, a higher proportion in older people. They don’t always fit the standard picture of skin cancer, can be missed in general diagnosis, or their importance not recognised.
Diagnosis & Treatment
The rapid progression possible with nodular melanoma should not be understated. If you have concerns, arranging to see a consultant dermatologist as soon as possible makes sense.
A skin cancer specialist at our London clinics will carry out a thorough physical examination. They will also discuss your personal and family medical history, along with any symptoms.
Their experience counts for much and they are assisted by the latest scientific equipment. Our investment in skin cancer diagnosis is perhaps unique in the private sector.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) can help assess tumour depth, along with accurate excision margins where surgery is required. Confocal microscopy is a laser based alternative for looking beneath the skin, along with more traditional dermoscopy.
Up to date techniques can avoid a need for surgical biopsy, although there are occasions when the option will be required. This can be a sample, or for nodular melanoma, an excision biopsy may be used, to substantially remove the growth.
Where nodular malignant melanoma is diagnosed, the most likely treatment is surgery. This will be carried out by experienced skin cancer surgeons, focused on cure and cosmetic preservation.
Care At Our London Clinics
We appreciate that nodular melanoma can spread, to lymph nodes and organs within the body. A range of treatment may still help, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted genetic therapy.
Because of the dangers, our objective is to diagnose and treat the condition at the earliest possible stage. Although fairer skin, multiple moles, age and sun exposure play a part, nobody is immune.
Any patient contacting us about the possibility of nodular malignant melanoma will see a skin cancer specialist as soon as possible and where needed, will be treated quickly.
The greatest care will be offered during treatment and afterwards. From assisting with restorative surgery if needed, to follow up appointments and regular skin checks.
Skin cancer treatment leads our work. For advice, or an appointment, you are welcome to get in touch with our friendly team at any time.