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One-Third of Melanomas Are Fast Growing

Elderly men, patients with fewer nevi and freckles, more likely to have rapid growth of melanomas

MONDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- One-third of all melanomas are aggressive and rapid growing. The lesions are thick with regular borders and occur more frequently in elderly males and in those with less nevi and fewer freckles, researchers report in the December issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Wendy Liu, Ph.D., of the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues conducted clinical evaluations and pathology reviews of 404 patients with invasive primary cutaneous melanoma to determine lesion growth rates and clinical associations of fast-growing lesions.

The investigators found that one-third of lesions grew 0.5 mm/month and more. Monthly median growth was 0.12 mm for superficially spreading lesions, 0.13 mm for lentigo maligna lesions and 0.49 mm for nodular growths. Fast-growing tumors were associated with thicker lesions and were more often seen in men 70 years and older, and in those with fewer melanocytic nevi and freckles. Fast-growing lesions were more often elevated, symmetric, regular, amelanotic and symptomatic.

"Rapid growth of primary cutaneous melanomas is associated with aggressive histologic features and atypical clinical features. It occurs more frequently in elderly men and individuals with fewer nevi and fewer freckles," the authors conclude.

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