Superficial spreading melanoma is a type of skin cancer. It begins when the melanocytes in the skin grow out of control and form tumors. Melanocytes are the cells responsible for making melanin, the pigment that determines the color of the skin.
Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type of melanoma, accounting for around 70 percent of all cases. It starts growing along the top layer of the skin. Over time it penetrates deeper into the skin.
This cancer can occur in adults of all ages. When people under 40 develop melanoma, it tends to be superficial spreading melanoma.
Spending a lot of time in the sun or in tanning beds is a major risk factor for superficial spreading melanoma. However there are other reasons that superficial spreading melanoma can develop. Learn more about melanoma risk factors.
The main sign of superficial spreading melanoma is an unusual-looking spot that changes in size or appearance. Other signs include spots with uneven borders or color variations in the same spot. Learn more about how to identify melanoma.
Treatment for Superficial Spreading Melanoma
Superficial spreading melanoma is highly curable when diagnosed early. The goals for treatment of superficial spreading melanoma are to:
- cure the cancer
- preserve the appearance of your skin
- prevent the cancer from coming back
The extent and depth of the melanoma guides your care plan. Treatment often involves surgery to remove the melanoma. If the melanoma is more advanced and has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes or internal organs, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or a combination of therapies may be used to shrink the tumor.