Rare melanoma could look like a pimple, dermatologist warns

Nodular Melanoma is a rare form of melanoma hard to detect and makes up for almost half of all melanoma deaths.

Depending where you look, skin cancer melanoma rates are higher in Alabama than much of the country, and men are more likely than women to get it.

What is likely the deadliest form of melanoma is a sub-type one dermatologist says you may never notice: nodular melanoma.

The symptoms will not be obvious, nor will you likely be the first to see it. Dr. Sarah Sawyer says your partner may find it before you do.

Dr. Sawyer says, “It doesn’t follow the rules of a superficial spreading melanoma, which is more common.”

Dr. Sawyer says nodular melanoma doesn't have the signs of (ABCDEs) asymmetrical shape, border, color, or change you look for in most cases.

“One of the reasons that it is more dangerous is because instead of growing across the skin, it grows deep," Dr. Sawyer says.

Dr. Sawyer says it can look like a pimple, or a larger than normal mole, but also be smooth.

She says if it lasts longer than a week or two, go see a doctor.

“A lot of times it’s a patient who feels the bump. Their attention is drawn to it and then it doesn’t go away. But the story is often that they don’t remember it," Dr. Sawyer says.

Melanoma causes 9,000 deaths every year around the country, CDC data shows.

In Alabama, the Department of Public Health shows all types of melanoma affecting men at higher rates than women. White men are affected the most: at an almost 40% higher rate than men of color.

Don't be surprised if your wife or husband spots it first, Dr. Sawyer says.

"That’s a very common scenario for the patient’s wife to come with him to the exam to say, 'Doctor I’ve noticed this.'”

She says nodular melanoma makes up about 15% of all melanomas, but it still accounts for nearly 50% of all melanoma deaths.

One means of detection is an improvement upon older models. It's called 'Do UC (different, uneven, changing) the melanoma?' The goal is to use early detection methods previously unused that can locate a piece of melanoma on the body.

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