Acral lentiginous melanoma

What is acral lentiginous melanoma? 

Acral lentiginous melanomas are rare, and form on the palms, soles of feet and around the nail.

Acral lentiginous melanomas are the most common form of melanoma in people with darker skin, but they can occur in any skin colour.

What is subungual melanoma?

Subungual melanoma is a type of acral lentiginous melanoma that develops under the fingernails and toenails.

Symptoms

Subungual melanoma and acral lentiginous melanoma may appear as a streak in a nail – often brownish or black. This can form in the fingernails or toenails and most often develops in the thumb or big toe. As the cancer in the nail grows, the nail may become damaged. Most streaks in the nail are not cancerous, but it’s important to contact your GP as soon as possible to get it checked.

On the palms or soles of the feet, acral lentiginous melanoma may be noticed by changes to a spot or mole. It could be an irregularly-shaped growth, that changes or is a different colour or present as a raised patch of thicker skin.

Diagnosis

Acral lentiginous melanomas are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage. It is important to monitor your skin and contact your GP if you notice any changes.

Remember – Acral lentiginous melanoma occurs in ALL skin colours.

Advice for people of colour

There is a common misconception that melanoma skin cancer doesn’t occur in people with black or darker skin tones. While it is true that skin with higher levels of melanin has some natural protection against the sun, this does not mean that people with darker skin are completely protected against melanoma.

This misconception means that many people of colour are unaware of the signs of acral lentiginous melanoma. Its appearance can be similar to other common skin conditions, resulting in misdiagnosis. These factors mean acral lentiginous melanoma is often diagnosed at a later stage, resulting in poorer outcomes for patients.

Not directly linked to sun exposure

Acral lentiginous melanoma is not directly related to sun exposure and the incidence rates are similar across all skin types.

Remember – whatever your skin type, even if you feel you don’t need suncream to protect you against sunburn, it can still prevent other forms of skin damage, such as skin ageing, hyperpigmentation and skin cancer.