What is Acral Lentiginous Melanoma: Causes, Prognoses, Treatment, Pictures

The adjective derives from the word lentigo, the fancy way of referring to a freckle. In botany and zoology, it’s used to describe an organism which is spotted. It can characterize a speckled flower or a patterned snake. In humans, medical terminology specifically, it’s a type of cancer.

What does lentiginous mean?

As you’d expect linguistically, it’s accompanied by visible spots on the skin. Unlike your regular freckled nose or the signature polka dots of a dalmatian or leopard, acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM) is not ordinary not desired. In fact, they’re deadly.

What is acral lentiginous melanoma?

This type of cancer is due to a malfunction in the pigment cells. The same part of your body system that gives you a tan or creates your complexion can stop working properly one day. When this happens, the cells replicate rapidly instead of the regular pace nature designed you to function with. This causes an unnatural expansion which damages tissue and disrupts regular cell activities.

This is why cancers manifest themselves in masses of tissues like tumors. In benign cases, the dysfunction is highly localized and causes no problems. In cancers, detrimental activities can travel to other regions, making it harder to treat and more lethal. Acral lentiginous melanoma begins superficially spreading spots on the surface of the skin then penetrates into deeper regions. Blemishes are generally blackish or brownish although discoloration may vary between individuals and tones. Reddish, orange and amelanotic spots have also been reported. Demographically, it’s the most common type of melanoma found in African Americans and Asians. It’s the least common in Caucasians.

How do histologists recognize it?

A scientist or doctor specialized in histology will identify cancer concretely. They do this by viewing suspected tissues under a microscope and watch for cancerous activities. Being able to examine and determine the status of atypical activity and separate it from benign lesions requires a high grade of professional skill that cannot be picked up in a youtube tutorial. This is not something one can do at home with purchasing microscopes and performing a DIY removal.

Where will this form?

This form of skin cancer appears on the palms of hands, soles of feet, under a fingernail, under a toenail, and sometimes under the fingers and toes. You’re more likely to find it on a foot than a hand. They can develop either de nova (on seemingly healthy and untouched skin) or within an existing melanocytic naevus (mole or freckle). It’s crucial to monitor changes in pigmentation on your skin and any noticeable differences in preexisting skin conditions. In nail beds, it will appear more often as a stripe than a sport.

What’s the acral lentiginous melanoma prognosis?

The prognosis of lentiginous melanoma will vary between a variety of factors. As with all cancers, survival rates decrease with progression of the stages at which it was initially recognized. A study conducted between 1986 and 2005 investigating patterns and incidence of this rare condition had yielded the following results. It had a survival rate of 80.3 and 67.5 percent for 5 and 10 years respectively. This is less than all cutaneous malignant melanomas overall (91.3 and 87.66%).

Survival rates were highest in whites who weren’t Hispanic (82.6 and 69.4), intermediate in African Americans (77.2 and 71.5), and lowest in Hispanic whites (72.8 and 5.3) and Asian or Pacific Islanders (70.2 and 54.1). These were compared using statistics tests evaluating statistical significance. These vast differences may be due to other underlying characteristics of the cultural groups due to lifestyles, education, or access to affordable medical care. The high aggression is linked with the fact many don’t recognize it until it’s too late. Misdiagnosis as another ailment is also a chief concern. The high death rate may be a result of delayed treatment.

What causes acral lentiginous melanoma?

There are many things associated with the development of ALM, but certain things make it unique among skin cancers. First, it seems as though sun exposure is not among the causes of acral lentiginous melanoma. Risk factors in genes exist, and family members with the diagnosis of ALM specifically or other types of melanoma mean that you are also more likely to have it. Researchers have yet to pinpoint an exact cause for the malfunction of cells to begin.

Pictures of acral lentiginous melanoma

While images online should not be considered a concrete evaluation, looking at pictures of acral lentiginous melanoma can help you figure out if you need to worry. Expert opinion is always necessary, and even if your WebMD search concludes there’s nothing weird, still visit a doctor just in case. It may be difficult for an amateur eye to see, especially in early stages when it’s most important to catch it for swift diagnosis and treatment. There are no homeopathic treatments which researchers have found effective enough to replace traditional drug therapies and medication. If a doctor recommends a treatment, put a lot of weight in their opinion. They have gone through years of schooling and are a more reliable source than a blogger. If their miracle cure seems too good to be true, it probably is.



Article References:

  1. https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma/types-of-melanoma
  2. http://oncolex.org/Melanoma/Background/Histology
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28707317
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19380664
  5. https://www.aimatmelanoma.org/melanoma-risk-factors/melanoma-in-people-of-color/acral-lentiginous-melanoma-alm/