Symptoms of melanoma are a set of indicators according to which ordinary moles on the body, which everyone has, begin to degenerate or have already degenerated into a malignant tumor. The appearance of melanoma depends on its type and stage, surface-spreading, acral lentiginous, nodular melanomas and lentigo are known.
More than 20% of melanomas belong to the superficially spreading variety. At the same time, patients rarely live more than 5 years. However, with timely and high-quality treatment, life expectancy can be significantly increased, and for this it is important to know what the melanoma itself looks like in order to recognize it during.
Manifestations in the early stages
Melanomas can appear on any part of the body, but most often the legs or back are the place of localization of tumors. Melanoma can also appear on the palms, mucous membrane in the mouth, vagina, rectum, scalp. On age-related skin, melanomas often manifest in the facial area.
Podnogtevaya or acrolentiginous variety
In 3% of all diagnosed cases of melanomas, specialists detect cancer of the nail plates. With this disease, there is its own specific symptomatology, which consists in the appearance of a tumor on the finger, darkening of the nail or the appearance of a clear dark stripe on it, cracking of the nail plate over time with the release of blood-like fluid or pus. It is important to know that the most common nail melanoma occurs in the thumb area. As it grows, the tumor changes its color to bluish-red or black and its shape to mushroom-shaped.
The symptoms of cutaneous melanoma are determined by the naked eye, so you should always pay attention to your own health, so as not to miss changes in the development of a mole and seek medical help in a timely manner. The main symptom of the manifestation of melanoma is the rebirth of a mole (nevus). This degeneration can be expressed in different forms, for example, a mole may begin to increase, its contour becomes jagged and asymmetrical, the color of pigmentation darkens or acquires blue or reddish shades, itching occurs in the area of education, as well as swelling or wet discharge. Against the background of the above-mentioned symptoms, regional lymph nodes may increase.
A mole can begin its rebirth after an injury, or for no apparent reason. Most often, hair falls out in the pigmentation zone, the skin begins to peel off and form crusts, the skin pattern ceases to be read on the surface. It is also possible that melanoma satellites may occur – skin rashes near the focus of the neoplasm. The mole becomes very smooth, acquires a mirror surface.
Melanoma of the eye is very common. Its peculiarity is the absence of symptoms at the first stages of pathology, which greatly complicates the course and treatment of the disease. The patient should be alerted by symptoms such as:
- sharp deterioration of vision;
- the appearance of photopsia or colored dots, sparks in front of the eyes;
- the occurrence of metamorphosis or distorted perception of spatial and dimensional quantities;
- change of pigmentation in the iris;
- the appearance of “blind spots” in the field of view;
- swelling in the eye area;
- clouding of the retina.
The symptoms of ocular melanoma may occur even before the complete formation of oncology and do not allow an accurate diagnosis. With different localization of such a disease, hemorrhages in the eye area, secondary glaucoma, and the retina may also occur.
How does non-pigmented melanoma manifest itself
Non-pigmented or achromatic melanoma is a rare, but no less dangerous disease. The first signs of it can be considered the appearance of a small bump on the skin, which quickly begins to grow. Externally, such an education may resemble a wart and not attract much attention to itself, since its color completely coincides with the skin tone. After the growth of achromatic melanoma, it can become slightly pinkish or whitish with a rough surface and detached epithelial scales. The skin at the site of localization of the neoplasm becomes coarser. Sometimes the appearance of such a melanoma resembles a scar without a clear edge. Pressing on the neoplasm does not cause any discomfort, which makes many patients ignore it.
In shape, non-pigmented melanomas can be flat or have a domed shape. The second form is caused by the vertical proliferation of cells, which leads to a more voluminous size compared to a flat one. The main sign of such a tumor is its uneven growth with obvious asymmetry, uneven edges and compaction of the structure. However, with the nodular form of achromatic melanoma, the symmetry of the neoplasm and the evenness of the color are preserved.
When such a melanoma grows sufficiently, it begins to cause discomfort to a person, which is expressed in soreness, itching, swelling, redness of tissues. The surface of the neoplasm can crack, bleed, form ulcers. All this indicates the progression of melanoma to the late severe stages, which are practically not amenable to therapy.
An alarming sign of a neoplasm is hair loss from its surface, which shows malignancy of pathology. It is also dangerous to detect an increase in regional lymph nodes.
Signs of metastasis in the last stages
Metastases in melanoma usually occur in the following cases:
- when the patient is elderly;
- with complications of melanoma with chronic diseases;
- when melanoma cells germinate into the walls of other organs;
- with a large size of primary melanoma.
Signs of liver metastases
When metastases are localized in hepatic structures, black melanin clusters form in them, representing areas of lesions. At the same time, functional or physical disorders occur in the liver, the consequences of which are felt by the whole body. The main signs that melanoma has metastasized to the liver are:
- tuberosity of the organ;
- liver enlargement in size;
- drastic weight loss;
- the presence of jaundice or ascites;
- soreness of the right hypochondrium;
- nausea and vomiting;
- enlargement of the spleen;
- frequent nosebleeds.
Metastases in the lungs
The initial phase of pulmonary metastases has no pronounced symptoms. At the same time, there will be general signs of oncological problems in the body such as apathy, anemia, weakness, weight loss, decreased appetite, hyperthermia. Signs of metastases may initially be various colds – bronchitis, flu, pneumonia. Sometimes the symptoms of lung metastases in melanoma occur only at the final stage of the disease, when nothing can be done to alleviate the patient’s condition. At the same time, multiple nodular formations involving the pleura and bronchi are diagnosed in the lungs.
If a large part of the lung has been affected or the bronchi are squeezed due to metastases, then the patient experiences shortness of breath. Cough with metastases is mainly nocturnal and dry, then replaced by ulceration of mucopurulent sputum, odorless, but often with traces of blood. With the growth of metastases, the bronchi narrow and the sputum thickens, acquiring a purulent character. Pulmonary bleeding may occur.
Pulmonary metastases, which affect the pleura, spine and ribs, provoke soreness. If metastases reach the lymph nodes of the left part of the mediastinum, hoarseness, aphonia is manifested, and with a right-sided lesion of the lymph nodes, the upper part of the trunk may swell due to compression of the superior vena cava.
Metastases in lymph nodes
Metastases in melanoma most often occur at 2-3 stages of the disease. The most common area for metastasis is the lymph nodes. At the same time, if a patient has a single metastasis to the lymph node, then according to doctors’ forecasts, he will live another 5 years in 51% of cases. With 4 metastases in this area, only 17% of patients will overcome the five-year milestone.
Signs of lymph node metastasis in melanoma are:
- sudden loss of body weight;
- causeless enlargement of lymph nodes;
- visual impairment;
- constant fatigue and a chronic feeling of fatigue.
A very common phenomenon in melanoma in medicine is bone metastasis, which gives pronounced pain to patients. The main manifestations of this process can be hypercalcemia, bone fragility, neurological changes, compression of the bone marrow. Bone metastases come from the primary focus, but other tumors, such as soft tissue sarcoma, ovarian tumors, and so on, can also be the cause. Melanoma most often affects the bones of the pelvis, hips, vertebrae, ribs. Along the venous vertebral plexuses, metastases follow from melanoma to the bones of the skull.
Nature has protected the bones of the skull with the possibility of constant renewal due to osteoclasts and osteoblasts, but the ingress of melanoma cells through the bloodstream into the bone marrow destroys these structures. The result of this is permanent fractures of the skeleton in different parts, even with small loads.
Metastasis in the brain
Melanoma more often than other oncological pathologies causes metastases in the human brain. After that, there is no need to wait for a complete cure of the disease. The chances of survival in a patient with such metastases are significantly reduced. However, sometimes modern therapy with monoclonal antibodies helps to stop this process in the presence of individual characteristics of the human body.
Brain metastases occur in 45% of all patients suffering from late-stage melanoma. This leads to a fatal outcome of the patient in the end. The symptoms of such metastasis will depend on the localization of the lesion, necessarily including violations of the coordination of the patient’s own body, emotional instability, headaches, fever and fever, memory loss, personality changes, falling into lethargic states, changes in pupil size, general weakness and difficulties in speech skills.
If the metastases have touched the frontal part of the brain, then the patient may experience sharp changes to rudeness, he begins to swear obscenities, experience violations of visual functions and the musculoskeletal system. The symptoms of such metastases are very individual and sometimes they can completely change the personality of the patient.
With metastasis of the patient’s brain stem, bursting or dull intracranial pains occur in the head, which lead to dizziness and disrupt visual functions. Also, such metastasis causes constant nausea and vomiting in the patient, convulsions, which resemble epileptic seizures in their manifestations.
Well-being in case of illness
Usually, the early stages of melanoma do not cause the patient any inconvenience, discomfort, or painful sensations. After stage 3, when metastases occur, soreness begins to manifest, and with the onset of stage 4, anemia, weakness, frequent cough, bone aches, exacerbation of chronic pathologies, enlarged lymph nodes, decreased appetite, headaches, nausea, vomiting, convulsions are added to it. Depending on the localization of metastases, memory loss may occur, vision may deteriorate, and pain in the skeleton, right hypochondrium, and chest space may constantly be bothered.
The danger of melanoma lies precisely in the fact that the patient practically does not feel the most loyal stages to treatment, so he is in no hurry to seek help, and when metastases occur and melanoma can no longer be cured, the patient begins to pester all sorts of unpleasant symptoms, which have to be addressed with considerable efforts. In general, the state of health in late-stage melanoma patients is negative, which further depresses the already exhausted people who are faced with oncology.
Signs of the birthmark degeneration into melanoma
Signs of the degeneration of birthmarks of a harmless nature into malignant melanoma are phenomena such as itching, burning in the area of the mole, skin tension at the base of the nevus, bleeding of unaffected moles, tingling at the birthmark site, cracks on the mole and ulceration from it.
To determine whether a person has signs of the birthmark degeneration into melanoma, experts have come up with a special system for assessing the condition of the mole, which is called the “melanoma chord”, where A is the asymmetry of the neoplasm, K is the unevenness of the edge of the birthmark, K is the bleeding of the mole, O is the uniformity of color, P is the large size of the neoplasm, D is dynamics of the state of a mole of any character.
Evaluating the above-mentioned indicators, we can conclude about the instability of the mole and promptly contact an oncologist for qualified help.
The appearance of melanoma and how to distinguish it from a mole
The appearance of a melanoma differs from the appearance of a simple mole. To understand that a malignant formation has arisen on the body, it is necessary to look at the shape and edges of the birthmark – the mole has a round shape, and the edges are smooth, and the melanoma has an asymmetric shape and the edges are blurred. When mentally passing through the mole of the central axis, both halves of it should be of the same shape and size. Also, a characteristic sign of the rebirth of a mole is a change in its color to a non-uniform one, with inclusions of darker or lighter shades in the main color. An increase in the number of moles on the body is also an important signal about the possible start of a malignant process in the body, as well as a sharp increase in any neoplasm on the body. Inclusions in the structure or color of the nevus indicate the malignancy of the nature of the neoplasm.
Most often, light-skinned, blue-eyed blondes are susceptible to melanomas, as well as those people who have been diagnosed with cancer in their family. You also need to carefully examine your own pigment spots after a long stay in the open sun, for example, after a vacation in hot countries, because this provokes the rebirth of birthmarks. If melanoma is suspected, a tissue biopsy is performed, which confirms or refutes the malignancy of the nature of the formation. When an oncoprocess is detected, doctors begin urgent treatment.