Lentigo maligna accounts for 10-15% of melanomas and is a slow growing cancer most commonly found in older people. The lesion can continue to grow on the surface of the skin over a number of years before potentially invading the local tissue. If the lesion does become invasive it is called a lentigo maligna melanoma.
What causes it?
Lentigo maligna has been linked to large cumulative doses of UV light and is therefore more common in outdoor workers and older people. Individuals with sun damaged skin and a history of non pigmented skin cancers (e.g. BCCs) are at higher risk of developing lentigo maligna. Australian research has found that the lesion is more likely to occur on the right side (drivers side) of the head and neck in men and on the left side (passenger’s side) in women. According to the Australian road traffic database, most Australian drivers are men and most passengers in the front seat are women.
What does it look like?
The typical lesion is tan-brown in colour with different shades throughout. In the early stages it has been likened to a stain on the skin. Lentigo maligna can be present for long periods (5-15years) before invasion of the local tissue occurs, although rapid progression has also been observed. Changes to deep-black colour, elevation and localised burning, itching or bleeding suggests that the melanoma has started to invade the local tissue (lentigo maligna melanoma).
The overall prognosis for patients diagnosed with lentigo maligna is good as the melanoma is still localised. As the lesion enters the vertical growth phase (lentigo malignant melanoma) the chances of the melanoma spreading to other areas of the body increases and therefore the prognosis worsens.
As with all melanomas, early detection is very important. The earlier it is diagnosed the better the overall outcome. It is important to carry out self assessments of your skin and if you are high risk then you should consider visiting your doctor or having MoleMaps on a regular basis.
If you are worried about a lesion then please don’t delay having it checked by your doctor, specialist or MoleMap immediately.
Phone 0800 MOLEMAP (0800 665 3627) or book online