When we think of cancer, we often end up ignoring the simple signs and that’s where the trouble begins. Some of the simplest symptoms of any kind of skin cancer are as trivial as marks on the skin, moles, skin lesions. When it comes to our skin and nails, we tend to go very easy but there are many things that they can tell you. A simple dark line on your nail can be a sign of melanoma, warn doctors.
What is skin melanoma?
Melanoma is a type of cancer that develops in and around skin cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for the production of melanocytes which in turn form melanin, the pigment that gives skin, hair, and eyes their color.
Commonly, it is thought that the first and the most important sign of skin melanoma is a mole but did you know even your nails can tell a lot about your health? Your nail health is an indication of your overall health. Yellow or pale nails can be an indication of iodine deficiency while hangnails can be a sign of calcium levels. If you have a dark line across your nail bed or have a black patch on your nails, it can be an early sign of melanoma. The patch is often so dark enough, that it is difficult to hide.That is reason enough for you to make an appointment with a doctor.
Subungual melanoma, or nail melanoma is a rare, yet risky kind of cancer which affects 1-3% of the population worldwide. They occur most often in people between the age of 40 and 70. It can happen both on the nails as well as toe nails. Sometimes, the darkened patch can also extend beyond the nail to the skin and also extend into darker pigmented shades like brown, blue. This is also a common characteristic which happens as the tumor grows and the cancer spreads.
They are often misdiagnosed as a fungal infection due to their characteristic changes in color and nail texture. As the melanoma continues to grow, it can also cause bleeding or deformity to the nail itself.
How is this treated?
Depending on the size and depth of a subungual melanoma, further testing will be needed to determine the stage of the disease. As with other forms of cancer, the stage can vary from carcinoma in situ (pre-cancer) all the way to stage 4 metastatic disease (where cancer has spread to other organs).