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What Does Melanoma Look Like Under The Nail

Prevention: Know Your Risk

Melanoma on Your Nail?

Talk to your doctor about any family history of skin cancer. Other things that raise your risk for sun damage and cancer include:

  • Light skin, hair, or eyes
  • Freckles or moles that are large, numerous, or oddly shaped
  • Lots of time outside, especially at higher altitude or where itâs very hot
  • Illness or medication that weakens your immune system
  • Drugs that make your skin more sensitive to light

Common Toenail Melanoma Symptoms

Read more information at Medical News Todays article on Subungal melanoma symptoms.

The most common symptom of this sort of cancer is when a small, dark spot can be seen under the toenail. You may mistake this for a normal mole as they look very similar. They can be either brown, dark brown, black or even yellow, resembling a bruise.

One common symptom is where you have a dark line that stretches from the tip of the nail to the cuticle. This is also known as a Hutchinsons sign.

In a rare number of cases, the melanoma spot has not unusual color at all, making it hard to see. Unfortunately, these are often not detected soon enough and can be dangerous if they are malignant growths.

Research and medical studies have revealed that this sort of melanoma is more common in Asian and darker-skinned people, but it is also possible for Caucasians to be affected by this type of cancer too.

What Does Nail Melanoma Look Like Skin Cancer Can Hide As

Melanoma on the extremities nails, Signs and symptoms patients with melanoma, which look even more like fungal toenails, Sometimes melanoma under the nail has black streaks, They also can occur in mucous membranes in the nose, The first may be associated with alteration of nail plate anatomy in more advanced cases, Beneath a nail, is dangerous because most people dont

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Rare Type Of Melanoma

Dr. Vishal Patel, assistant professor of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, told, melanoma on the nails, hands and feet make up less than five per cent of all melanomas. However, they are more aggressive.

Black, South Asian and other groups of people with darker skin are more likely to have this type of melanoma called acral lentiginous melanoma.

READ MORE: Most skin cancers stem from new moles, not existing ones, study warns

Acral lentiginous melanoma appears as a small, flat spot of discoloured skin that is often dark brown or black. It usually grows outward across the surface of the skin for a long time before it starts to grow down into the skin, the site noted. This type of melanoma appears on the soles of the feet, the palms of the hand, or like Jaskos case, under the nail.

Patel added the main symptom of this type of melanoma is a pigmented vertical streak on the nail. It can look like a line drawn by a marker, but not all pigmentation lines are a sign of cancer sometimes it can be completely normal.

Carroll said there are two things you should look for if you see a streak of colour in your nail: Is the width of the pigmentation more than 40 per cent of the nail? And is it widening over time?

If you notice these changes, speak with a doctor right away.

Prevention: Check Your Skin

Nail Discoloration and Other Signs of Subungual Melanoma ...

Skin cancer is often curable if you find it early. So itâs important to check your skin once a month or so. Stand in front of a full-length mirror to start. A chair and a hand mirror can help you get a view of awkward places. Look for any new growths or changes in old spots, as they may be a sign of problems, including cancer. See a skin doctor once a year or anytime you notice something unusual.


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Treatment Of Melanoma Under The Toenail

Melanoma should be removed. The exact treatment will depend on the depth of the melanoma . Usually a margin of healthy tissue is removed to make sure the entire melanoma is removed. If the melanoma is not caught early enough, the toe may need to be amputated.

If notice any changes in your toenails, call 845-298-9074 to set up an appointment at Hollowbrook Foot Specialists. Be sure not to assume you have a fungal toenail and do not treat the problem yourself. Your best bet is to see an board certified expert in Podiatric Medicine and Foot Surgery, such as Dr. David Schlam.

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Is A Toenail Melanoma Rare

The current lifetime risk for having a toenail melanoma is 1 in 120 for men and 1 in 95 for women. Therefore, it can be classed as an uncommon type of cancer. Other statistics show that it only accounts for 0.7% and 3.5% of all melanoma cases.

Some research published in 2010 revealed that in the UK, there were over 8500 new cases treated per year.

There is a 60% chance that they will occur in the fingernails, compared to 40% in the toes. Your thumbs and big-toes are the most common digits to be affected.

They are also more common in older people, between the ages of 50 to 70 years old.

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What Does Nail Melanoma Look Like Skin Cancer Can Hide As Line On Nail

Karolina Jasko has a family history of melanoma, so she’s no stranger to paying attention to her skin. Her mother who battled the deadliest form of skin cancer twice and recovered has always been vigilant about checking Jaskos moles for any changes.

But melanoma was still able to sneak up on Jasko in a spot neither she nor her mom suspected: one of Jaskos nails.

Experts like Dr. Vishal Patel, assistant professor of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., worry such cases may be on the rise with the popularity of gel manicures that require the polish to be hardened under ultraviolet light.

Its like tanning beds for your hands, Patel, who is also the director of the cutaneous oncology program at the GW Cancer Center, told TODAY. He was not involved in Jaskos case, but commented in general.

Were seeing a lot of patients having not only melanomas, but all types of skin cancers around the finger tips and the cuticles.

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Subungual Melanoma: What You Need to Know

BACKGROUND: Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It begins in skin cells called melanocytes, the cells that produce the color of our skin. The first sign of melanoma is often a change in the size, shape, or color of a mole. However, melanoma can also appear on the body as a new mole. According to the American Cancer Society, there were 68,700 news cases of melanoma in 2009 and more than 8,500 deaths.

In men, melanoma most often shows up on the upper body, between the shoulders and hips and on the head and neck. In women, it often develops on the lower legs. In dark-skinned people, melanoma often appears under the fingernails or toenails, on the palms of hands or on the soles of the feet. Although these are the most common places for melanomas to appear, they can appear anywhere on the skin including inside the oral cavity.

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Blood Under A Toenail

Also, a subungual hematoma usually affects the nail of the great toe and may affect multiple nails, often with bilateral great toe involvement if its from ill-fitting footwear, continues Dr. King.

Subungual hematoma under toenail. Shutterstock/mortalpious

Usually the hematoma is distal to the proximal nail fold and has a sharply demarcated curved proximal limit.

What does this mean?

The dark smudge-like pigment is somewhat curved on the sides closer to the nail fold or bottom of the nail.

When a person first notices the pigment, its usually soon after the trauma that caused it when the discolored area is visibly making contact with the bottom or cuticle area of the nail.

In addition, the pigment does not extend further beyond this bottom area where the skin starts.

Dr. King adds, The lateral margins are often wavy and divergent.

This means the area of dried blood can have more of a smear-like shape than an outright band or stripe.

Note: Not all toenail melanomas are shaped like a band, stripe, streak or line. Sometimes they can appear like a smudge or smear as well.

And a hematoma will grow out, says Dr. King. This is an extremely reassuring sign that the dark blob under your toenail is just some old blood.

However, waiting for it to grow out can be agonizing, since toenails seem to grow so slowly.

Nail Melanoma Is More Common In Older Individuals And In People With Darker Skin

As Healthline pointed out, melanoma on the extremities is the rarest subtype of the skin cancer. It accounts for less than 5 percent of all melanomas, Vishal Patel, assistant professor of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., told Today in 2019. “But it makes up about a third of all the melanomas that African Americans, Indians, Asians and other people with darker skin develop, which is a ten-fold increase compared to the general population,” the outlet explained.

Souyoul warns that a personal or family history of melanoma, or nail trauma could also be risk factors. According to Rachel Nall, MSN, CRNA, of Medical News Today, having an immunosuppressive disorder, such as HIV, can also make you more likely to develop nail melanoma.

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Melanoma Can Strike Your Nails: Here’s How To Check

SUNDAY, May 16, 2021 — When checking your body for signs of skin cancer, don’t overlook your nails.

The American Academy of Dermatology points out that skin cancer — including melanoma, the deadliest type — can develop under and around the fingernails and toenails. Though it’s rare, it’s more common in older people with darker skin.

Risk factors include personal or family history of melanoma or nail trauma.

“When found early, melanoma — even on the nails — is highly treatable,” said Dr. Skylar Souyoul, a board-certified dermatologist in Norwell, Mass. “The best way to find skin cancer on your nails early, when it’s most treatable, is to know what to look for and regularly check your nails.”

Souyoul recommends looking for:

  • Dark streaks. They may look like a brown or black band. They’re often on the thumb or big toe, but can develop on any nail. Nails might also have a band of color, which can be wide and irregular or dark and narrow.
  • Dark skin next to the nail. When the skin around nails is darker, it could be a sign of advanced melanoma.
  • Nail lifting from fingers or toes. The nail begins to separate from the nail bed and the white edge at the top will look longer as the nail lifts.
  • Splitting. Watch for nails that split down the middle.
  • A bump or nodule under your nails.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

More information

How Can You Make A Difference In The Fight Against Melanoma

Figure 5 from Nail melanoma in situ: clinical, dermoscopic ...
  • Check your skin every month for new or changing lesions.
  • Get a full-body skin check by a board-certified dermatologist once each year.
  • Encourage your friends and family members to pay attention to their own skin and check it regularly.
  • Schedule an annual dilated eye exam by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.
  • Participate in science and become an advocate. Surveys, mole-mapping apps and other opportunities exist so your voice can be heard.
  • Jackie was diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 22.

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    What Is The Outlook For Patients With Melanoma Affecting The Nail Unit

    The main factor associated with the risk of spread of melanoma and death is the thickness of the melanoma at the time of complete excision of the primary tumour. Delay in diagnosis is common with subungual melanoma, particularly when it affects the toe, and some of these tumours have already spread at the time of diagnosis.

    The 5-year survival rate ranges widely from 16% to 87%, depending on the series, with two larger series in the 51% to 55% range .

    What Is Subungual Melanoma

    This is a very rare form of cancer and will typically occur on your big toe or thumb under the nail but can affect any nail on your foot. It is most commonly found in people who are of Asian and African-American descent. Of all melanoma cases this type accounts for only five percent.

    You will usually see this type of cancer in people between the ages of sixty and seventy. This type of cancer is normally benign but can develop into cancer that can be deadly. Bob Marley, a famed musician, death was because of melanoma that began in his toenail.

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    Acral Lentiginous Melanoma Causes

    • Some studies have suggested that trauma to the foot can be a cause. This is because the most common place for the tumor is on the heal or ball of the feet. These areas receive the most impact during walking or running.
    • Prolonged sun exposure

    Picture 1 : Prolonged sun exposure

    Image source :

    Growth phases are known as:

    • Preliminary radial growth of atypical lentiginous cells at dermal-epidermal interface.
    • Expansible growth into the papillary dermis or infiltrative vertical growth in the reticula dermis.
    • Cytology of themalignant cell
    • Response of the epidermis to the melanocytes
    • Immune response.

    Overview And Scope Of The Guidelines


    Melanoma is a life threatening but potentially treatable form of cancer if diagnosed and managed at an early stage. Guidelines have been published to assist healthcare workers in the recognition of malignant melanoma of the skin . However, early melanoma arising on the foot, particularly within the nail unit and on the plantar surface, can be difficult to recognise. Consequently, this can lead to delays in diagnosis. Melanoma arising on the foot carries a particularly poor prognosis when compared to melanoma arising at other body sites . As there are no consistent features of an early melanoma, these guidelines have been drafted to alert health care workers to the signs which may suggest melanoma and therefore warrant a specialist referral. A melanoma recognised and diagnosed at an early stage can dramatically increase a patient’s chances of survival.

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    Stay Alert And See A Dermnow And Always

    Armed with this knowledge, be sure to keep an eye on your fingernails and toenails just as you would on the rest of your skin. And rememberif you see anything you even suspect is out of the ordinary, it’s a good idea to visit a board-certified Dermatologist and to continue to go in for regular skin and nail exams.

    These doctors are here to help you, and they are the best resource in your quest for great skin and nails your whole life through.

    What Happens To Your Fingernails When You Have Cancer

    Many changes to nails that happen during cancer treatment can affect their appearance. For example, ridges or lines in your nails are not usually painful, but cause changes in how your nails look and feel. Once the treatment causing changes is done, the changes will usually go away over time as the nail grows out.

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    Education And Advising Clients

    Despite efforts to educate the public about subungual melanoma in the last couple of decades, awareness of this type of cancer remains poor, noted the authors of a paper published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2018. This is why nail techs, who interact with people who might not see health care providers regularly, are a crucial piece of the detection puzzle, they wrote.

    What Are The Treatments For Metastatic Melanoma

    Does the short black line on my toe look like cancer ...

    Historically, metastatic and recurrent melanoma have been poorly responsive to chemotherapy. Immunotherapy, in which the bodys own immune system is energized to fight the tumor, has been a focus of research for decades. A variety of newer medications target different points in the pathways of melanoma cell growth and spread. While the most appropriate use of these medications is still being defined, the best treatment for melanoma remains complete surgical excision while it is still small, thin, and has not yet had a chance to spread.

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    When To See A Foot Specialist

    Lesions that occur on the nail unit or the soles of the feet need to be watched carefully for malignant transformation .

    The bottom line â if you have a pigmented streak or spot, on your toenail, underneath your toenail or on the nail fold beside your toenail, no matter what the color, you should have it evaluated by a specialist. Little spots on little toenails could be signs of a big problem.


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