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Superficial Spreading

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Superficial Spreading Melanoma (SSM)

Fortunately, around 65% of all melanomas are of this type. It is generally slow in spreading, occurs after puberty, and arises from an existing nevus (mole) or a multi-colored skin spot thus allowing early detection. SSM usually occurs on sun-exposed areas, slightly more often in women than men with the shin being the most frequent site for females and the back of the torso and front of the legs for males, but it can grow anywhere.

Growth occurs first radially (horizontally in the upper skin layer) lasting for months to years then begins a vertical phase that can lead to bodily spread (metastasis). It often begins as a dark spot in an existing mole that changes in shape, size and border edge which becomes irregular. It may also present as a multi-colored skin spot usually having a red hue. Borders are often irregular and notched. All shades of color are seen from red to blue, tan-brown to deep black, and sometimes all colors are seen in one lesion.

The forties and fifties (middle age) are the time period when SSM usually appears but it is also the most frequent type found in young people. Thus underscoring the need for sun safety education and precautions in childhood.