What are the types of melanoma?

Updated: Mar 08, 2019
  • Author: Jonathan B Heistein, MD; Chief Editor: Gregory Gary Caputy, MD, PhD, FICS  more...
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The 4 major types of melanoma, classified according to growth pattern, are as follows:

  • Superficial spreading melanoma: Constitutes approximately 70% of melanomas; usually flat but may become irregular and elevated in later stages; the lesions average 2 cm in diameter, with variegated colors, as well as peripheral notches, indentations, or both

  • Nodular melanoma: Accounts for approximately 15-30% of melanoma diagnoses; the tumors typically are blue-black but may lack pigment in some circumstances

  • Lentigo maligna melanoma: Represents 4-10% of melanomas; the tumors are often larger than 3 cm, flat, and tan, with marked notching of the borders; they begin as small, frecklelike lesions

  • Acral lentiginous melanoma: Constitutes 2-8% of melanomas in whites and 35-60% of them in dark-skinned people; may appear on the palms and soles as flat, tan, or brown stains with irregular borders; subungual lesions can be brown or black, with ulcerations in later stages

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