Black toenail cancer, also known as subungual melanoma, is a serious type of skin cancer that develops in the cells that produce melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives color to your skin. Subungual melanoma often appears as dark brown spots on the toenail bed. They can occur on any of the toenails. When melanoma appears on the toenail; the color of the toenail changes to black.
Subungual melanomas usually appear as darkened spots that run longitudinally on the toenail bed. They can be brown, blue, or black in color. Some may even lack color (non-pigmented).
A key indication of subungual melanoma is the extension of the black spot or streak from the top of the toenail down to the toenail bed and into the cuticle. Other signs include:
It is not exactly clear what causes subungual melanoma. Melanoma usually results from excess ultraviolet exposure from sunlight.
Individuals who have increased risk of subungual melanoma include:
During diagnosis, your doctor will conduct a physical assessment of the affected toenail. You may be asked questions about the lesions on the toenail. You may be asked when you started noticing the change in color and when the color changes. Your doctor may also take a biopsy of the nail matrix and the nail bed to the lab for tests to check for subungual melanoma. The nail cells will be examined to know if they are cancerous.
If your doctor confirms that it is indeed subungual melanoma, more tests may be ordered to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body. Subungual melanoma starts from the pre-cancer stage or stage I to metastatic stage or stage IV. The most severe form of subungual melanoma is stage IV. At this stage, the cancer cells have spread to other organs of the body.
The treatment of subungual melanoma depends on the severity and stage of the cancer.
After your doctor has determined the extent of subungual melanoma, the treatment is usually surgically removal of the affected toenail. The entire toenail may be removed or a portion of the toe. The first joint nearest to the toenail may be removed. In cases where the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or throughout the body, other types of treatments may be used.
Chemotherapy – This is the use of anti-cancer medications given either systemically through a vein or directly into the tumor to kill the cancer.
Radiation therapy – This involves using radiation to kill the cancerous cells. It is also used to reduce the pain from the spread of cancerous cells.
Immunotherapy – This is a newer form of cancer therapy that aims to stimulate the immune system to fight cancerous cells
Targeted therapies – These treatments involve taking drugs that target mutations that occur in melanomas
When your toenail turns black, it means that you may be experiencing the effect of subungual melanoma. This type of malignancy occurs in the tissues of your nail bed. It is a type of cancer that develops in the melanocytes. The cells that produce melanin are known as melanocytes. Melanin gives your skin color.
Black toenail cancer treatment in Dallas, soften has a dark brown or black streak (mark) on the nail that may run from the top of the nail to the nail bed.
A black toenail is a common sign of subungual melanoma. Subungual melanoma is a type of cancer. However, fungus infection may also lead to a change in the color of your toenail. Visit your doctor to know if your black toenail is cancerous.
Nail cancer is not a death sentence. If treated on time, it won’t lead to any serious complications. If left untreated, it may develop to stage IV, where the cancer spreads to other parts of the body. If still not treated as soon as possible, the cancer could spread to other delicate organs that could lead to death.
Has one or more of your toenails turned black? Schedule an appointment with Graff Foot Ankle and Wound Care. Call (972) 403-7733 today or use our convenient Request an Appointment form to schedule your visit.
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June 17, 2022
By Dr Graff
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