Naples 239-596-1848   Fort Myers 239-936-3344

Subungual Melanoma: When Skin Cancer Occurs Under the Nail

subungual melanoma

A rare form of skin cancer, subungual melanoma grows under the fingernails or toenails, generally in people with darker skin. Doctors have only seen this condition in about 3.5 percent of the people in the world. However, this type of melanoma can be deadly if not caught early, and it can spread to other parts of the body. At Harris Dermatology, we can treat some cases of subungual melanoma.

Causes of Subungual Melanoma

While not much is known about the cause of subungual melanoma, it is recognized that it doesn’t have any connection to sun exposure. In most cases, this cancer shows up in the thumb or large toe.

Subungual melanoma appears as a blackish or brownish discoloration on your nail bed. It can be shaped irregularly or can be a long, thin line. It can cause the fingernail or toenail to thicken, split, or otherwise become damaged–sometimes to the point where it can’t be repaired. Some people may notice swelling due to white blood cells trying to repair the damage.

This type of melanoma is most common in people with African, Chinese, Japanese, and Native American backgrounds and mostly in women over 60 and men over 70.

If you notice any of these symptoms, please reach out to your doctor or to Harris Dermatology as soon as possible.

Treating Subungual Melanoma

There are several options to treat subungual melanoma. Some treatments can remove the abnormal tissue directly, eliminate it with radiotherapy, or use targeted laser therapy. If the melanoma spreads to other parts of the body, immunotherapy might be an option.

If a doctor diagnoses subungual cancer early enough in its first stage, the survival rate is 97 percent at five years and 95 percent at ten years. The survival rate decreases for each stage.

Where to Find Treatment for Subungual Melanoma in Naples, FL

Harris Dermatology serves Naples, Fort Myers, and the surrounding areas in Florida. To find out more about treatment for subungual melanoma, speak with one of our dermatologists today. To schedule a consultation, please call 239-596-1848 for our office in Naples or 239-936-3344 for our office in Fort Myers.


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