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Melanoma Guide

Maryann Gromisch RN Guide

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8 Places You Might Not Expect to Find Melanoma

melanoma in 8 places you didn't expect Lev Dolgachov/PhotoSpin

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

“The American Cancer Society estimates that at present, about 120,000 new cases of melanoma in the US are diagnosed in a year. In 2010, about 68,130 of these were invasive melanomas. Melanoma kills an estimated 8,790 people in the US annually.”(1)

Hidden melanomas are cancerous skin lesions that occur in areas that are out of sight and are not usually examined. While the incidence of hidden melanomas is low, it is worth taking note of these places since treatment is most effective if caught early.

These potential sites of melanoma are summarized from

Nail bed

Melanoma of the nail bed is called “subungal melanoma”. These melanomas are relatively uncommon in whites -- only about 2 percent -- but occur much more often in non-whites, at 30 to 40 percent, according to

They develop equally in men and women but most often appear under the nail of the thumb or big toe as a brown or black streak that does not disappear with time.

Nose and Mouth

The nose and mouth are the most common primary site of mucosal tissue melanomas. That is because symptoms are so often attributed to other causes and are difficult to examine thoroughly. Nose bleeds and stuffiness can be misinterpreted as sinus trouble.

Melanoma in the mouth may appear like a pigmented mass. If accompanied with difficulty swallowing, it can be mistaken for canker sores. Yearly oral exams from your dentist can help screen for changes in the mouth.

Female Genitalia

Fortunately, a very small number of melanomas occur in the female genitalia and they are frequently detected with a vaginal exam. Signs and symptoms for vaginal/vulvar melanomas are similar to symptoms of other infections but patients with advanced melanoma will have a recognized change of a mole on the vulva. states that vaginal melanomas that do not begin first as vulvar melanomas are rare.


Melanomas of the anus are called “anorectal” since they usually include the rectum.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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EmpowHER Guest

My Melanoma was on the sole of my foot (acral lentiginous) It appeared as a "blister". Early detection saved my life!!! CHECK YOUR FEET TOO!

March 28, 2013 - 5:43am
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