Acral Lentiginous Melanoma: An Uncommon Cancer of the Feet & Hands

Acral Lentiginous Melanoma: An Uncommon Cancer of the Feet & Hands

Acral lentiginous melanomaDid you know skin cancer can affect areas of your body that aren’t exposed to the sun? We most often hear, “Make sure you apply your sunscreen to prevent skin cancer!” While that is great advice and should always be followed, an uncommon type of melanoma skin cancer can develop in places that are not typically exposed to the sun.

Acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM) is the most common type of melanoma found in people of color and those of Asian descent, although it can appear on all skin types. It accounts for about 2-3% of all melanomas and typically appears on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, or under the nails.

Unlike typical melanoma, ALM is not related to sun exposure. Instead, it may be related to genetics in some people, although researchers still have not found conclusive evidence of what causes this condition.

According to the Aim at Melanoma Foundation, Acral lentiginous melanoma can present in a variety of ways, including:

  • A dark spot on your skin that is surrounded by normal skin pigmentation.
  • A streak in the nail that wasn’t a result of an accident or bruise.
  • A streak in the nail that has resulted in damage to the fingernail.
  • A spot that has changed or is connected to a mole on the foot or hand.
  • A growth on the foot for the hand that is an irregular-shaped, growing or is an unusual color.
  • A growing, raised patch on the sole or palm of the hand.

Most often, people notice ALM as an unusually shaped spot that has irregular borders and is black, gray, tan, or brown in color. The surface of the ALM can be flat in appearance, but it grows deep into the skin. Over time, the ALM can morph from a flat surface and become bumpier and rougher as it continues to grow.
The best way to detect and prevent metastasis of ALM is to undergo annual skin examinations with your dermatologist or visit your podiatrist if you notice spots in your nails or on the soles of your feet.

If you have an unusual spot on your skin, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation. To request an appointment with a podiatrist at Triad Foot and Ankle Center, please call 336-375-6990 or click here to request an appointment.

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