Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that should be taken very seriously because it can easily spread to other parts of the body. Usually, it is the patient who first notices its presence because it looks just like a mole but it has some very suspicious characteristics to it, and one of them includes color changes or having too many colors.
However, there is a form of melanoma that can be very challenging to diagnose because it lacks pigment. Both patient and doctor may fail to notice its presence most especially during its early stages when it’s so much easier to treat. This form of hard-to-diagnose melanoma is amelanotic melanoma.
Amelanotic melanoma a can be quite dangerous due to the fact that it does not present the typical symptoms of any other skin cancer, in particular the presence of melanin, which is a dark-colored pigment. But if detected early, amelanotic melanoma is almost always curable, just like other forms of melanomas.
In determining a melanoma, a person may use the ABCDE warning signs of the said form of skin cancer. Every letter in it stands for something that, when used as a guide, can make it easier for a person to determine whether a particular mole is malignant or cancerous in nature, or benign or non-cancerous. The letters stand for:
A – Asymmetry. One half of the mole does not look like the other half shape-wise.
B – Border. A melanoma’s border tends to be irregular, unlike a benign mole’s which is smooth and even.
C – Color. Be very suspicious if the mole changes in color, or has so many shades to it at once.
D – Diameter. Usually, a melanoma is larger than a pencil eraser, although it may start out smaller.
E – Evolving. A melanoma tends to change in appearance or position after some time.
Unlike the Rest
The problem with amelanotic melanoma is the letter C in the ABCDEs of skin cancer does not apply because of the fact that it is usually colorless. In other words, amelanotic melanoma does not contain melanin like other forms of melanoma, making it really hard to detect by the patient himself or herself, or even by a doctor.
Sometimes an amelanotic melanoma looks pinkish, reddish or purplish, and that’s why it can easily be — and even actually usually mistaken — for a harmless scar only. Because of this, the skin cancer can get to its more advanced stages undetected, making it harder to treat using the usual treatments for melanomas.
Identification Still Possible
However, this does not mean that amelanotic melanoma cannot go undetected during its early stages. Sometimes having a keen eye is all it takes in order to have its presence detected. Because of this, it’s very much possible to have the problem treated while it’s not yet in a more advanced stage, which can be quite successful.
The letter E in the ABCDE warning signs of skin cancer, which stands for “evolving” can be used in determining whether something on the skin that kind of resembles a scar is amelanotic melanoma or not. If it seems to be changing in size or moving to a different part of the body, the attention of a specialist should be sought right away.
Because amelanotic melanoma is still just a form or melanoma, the best treatments for it include those that are suited for any other type of melanoma. They are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immune therapy, hyperthermia, photodynamic therapy and medications.
Again, just like any other form of melanoma, amelanotic melanoma is almost always treatable provided that it is detected and dealt with during its early stages. Otherwise, it can become harder to treat most especially because amelanotic melanoma can easily spread to other parts of the body.