Types of melanoma
The most common type of melanoma is cutaneous melanomas, which develop on the skin, particularly in areas exposed to the sun, although they can develop anywhere. In men, the most common site is the chest or back, while in women, the legs are affected most frequently. However, melanomas are also commonly found on the neck or face.
While having dark skin lowers the risk of developing melanoma in these more common locations, individuals with darker skin are still at risk for the development of melanoma on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or under the fingernails. Clusters of melanocytes can also form a benign (noncancerous) growth, or mole (also known as a nevus). While most moles are harmless, some types may raise your risk of developing melanoma cancer.
More rarely, melanomas can develop in the eyes, called ocular melanoma, or mouth or vagina, called mucosal melanoma.
Once melanoma spreads, or metastasizes, it is known as metastatic melanoma. When melanoma spreads, it will usually appear first in the lymph nodes, and then in other organs such as the liver, lungs or brain.