Skin Cancer

Superficial Spreading Melanoma

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Team MoleMap Creator
Posted 02/10/13

Superficial Spreading Melanoma (SSM) often appears as a dark, flat, or slightly raised mark on the skin with multiple colours. Its borders are irregular, with indentations or notches. In women, over 40% of SSM are found on the legs. In men, over half of SSM are found on the trunk and the majority of these are on the back of the torso. Remembering the ABCDE of melanoma is a good way to help identify this skin cancer (it is also worth pointing out that over half of melanoma are first identified by their owner).


SSM has two growth phases. The radial phase involves expansion, or ‘spreading’ of the lesion across the epidermis (upper skin layer). In this early radial phase, the lesion is thin, and it can remain in this phase for months or years. This is the less threatening of the two phases. Once the melanoma enters into the vertical growth stage (i.e. becomes invasive), the prognosis worsens. In the vertical growth phase, the melanoma grows into the dermis (deep skin layer) and underlying structures. At this point, the cancer is a dangerous malignancy and has the ability to invade other tissues and metastasize to other parts of the body.

If you are worried about a mole then don’t delay having it assessed by either your doctor or MoleMap (0800 MOLEMAP).