NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Melanoma, Version 1.2014
Types of melanoma
Cancer that spreads from the primary site to a new
location is called metastasis (from Greek “standing
beyond”). Metastasis to a nearby body part is called
a local metastasis. Metastasis to a body part far
from the first tumor is called a distant metastasis.
Melanoma that has spread into a nearby lymph
vessel, but not to lymph nodes, is called an in-transit
metastasis. Melanoma that has spread to a small
area of skin near the first tumor is called a satellite
Types of melanoma
There are four major types of melanoma skin cancer.
The unique features of each can often help you tell
them apart. These features include color, shape,
location, and growth pattern.
Superficial spreading melanoma
Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common
type of melanoma. It usually looks like a brown-black
stain that is spreading from a mole.
See Figure 5.
A mole is a spot on the skin formed by a cluster of
melanocytes—cells that make melanin to give skin its
color. This type of melanoma normally occurs on skin
exposed to sunlight.
Nodular melanoma may grow more quickly into the
dermis than other types of melanoma. The dermis is
the second layer of skin, located under the epidermis.
Once in the dermis, it can spread to other tissue.
Nodular melanoma looks like a dome-shaped bump
and feels firm.
Figure 4. Lymph nodes and vessels
Lymph nodes and lymph vessels are found
throughout the body. A lymph node is a
small group of special disease-fighting cells.
Lymph nodes are connected to each other by
tiny tubes called lymph vessels.
Illustration Copyright © 2014 Nucleus Medical Media,
All rights reserved.
Melanoma courtesy of the National Cancer Institute available at:
Figure 5. Superficial spreading melanoma
Superficial spreading melanoma is the most
common type of melanoma.