Lentigo Maligna is also known as HMF (Hutchinson’s Melanocytic Freckle). This is an early form of melanoma with an excellent prognosis. Lentigo Maligna accounts for approximately 10% of all melanomas diagnosed by skin cancer clinics and Dermatologists in Brisbane. This form of melanoma is slow growing and can resemble a freckle, age wart or sunspot. It usually occurs on sun-damaged skin on the face, back or arms.
Lentigo maligna is a type of melanoma “in situ“ which means that the cancer cells are confined to the top layer of the skin (the epidermis) and have not yet had the opportunity to spread anywhere else in the body.Lentigo maligna is a slow growing lesion that develops in areas of skin that are exposed to sun such as the face or upper body. Because it grows slowly it can take years to develop. Because lentigo maligna is confined to the top layer of skin it is cured with surgery. If treatment for lentigo maligna is not undertaken,it may go on to develop into lentigo maligna melanoma which is a more serious disease.
Lentigo maligna like many other skin cancers is associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Brisbane has a particularly high UV index and therefore placesmany Queenslanders at greater risk of developing lentigo maligna.
Lentigo maligna is more common in males than females and tends to occur in people over the age of 40. Having a fair complexion places you at increased risk;however, even those individuals with darker skin may still develop lentigo maligna, although the risk is less. Other important risk factors include a family history of melanoma and/or a personal history of non-melanoma skin cancer.
Lentigo maligna is associated with exposure to the sun. Research indicates that episodes of sunburn as a child under the age of 15 may increase the risk of developing lentigo maligna as an adult. Furthermore, intermittent episodes of sunburn as an adult may play a significant role in your risk for developing lentigo maligna. Those individuals who are exposed to the sun on a regular basis, such as outdoor workers,are also at increased risk.
If you’re my Skin Clinic doctor or dermatologist suspects that an abnormalpatch or mole may be a type of melanoma or a lentigo maligna, a biopsywill be necessary to allow a pathologist to confirm the diagnosis. Usually, when a lesion is suspected of being a melanoma, or has the potential to become a melanoma, a complete excision of the lesion at the time of biopsy is undertaken. When this happens your doctor will often remove a 2-3mm margin of surrounding normal skin along with the lesion to reduce the likelihood of leaving cancer cells behind. The biopsy is normally performed using a local anaesthetic.
The treatment that offers the best cure rate is surgical excision. A border of healthy skinsurrounding the lentigo maligna melanoma is taken in hopes of removing any residualabnormal cells. Depending on the size of the lesion, simple stiches may be adequate or a skin graft may be necessary.
A skin graft uses skin from another part of the body to cover the area from which the lesion has been removed. The area on which the skin is grafted may look unattractive after the operation however, with time it will heal and the redness will fade. As this is a surgical procedure, there is a risk of infection and scarring. Occasionally skin grafts may fail and will necessitate further treatment.
Lentigo maligna may be treated with other treatments if surgery is not a feasible option. Such treatments may include the following:
Lentigo Maligna(melanoma in situ)has a good prognosis when detected and treated. It is rare for these lesions to recur because they are ‘in situ’, therefore have not been able to spread to other regions of the body.
Regular skin checks are advisable despite successful treatment to monitor for any new lesions.