Can a melanoma look like an age spot and vice versa?
As people get older, their risk of melanoma rises, but they also start developing age spots.
Can the physical appearance of these conditions overlap each other?
“Age spots are linked to both aging and sun exposure,” says Dr. Michael Shapiro, MD, Medical Director and Founder of Vanguard Dermatology in NYC, NY.
“Also known as liver spots or solar lentigines, age spots are typically oval, flat and typically black, brown or grey.”
Can age spots ever develop into skin cancer?
Dr. Shapiro says, “It isn’t scientifically proven that age spots can become melanoma, but they are linked together due to the similarity of sun exposure.”
Physical Appearance Comparison
Dr. Shapiro explains, “Age spots differ from melanoma in that they are typically oval, flat and brown in color as opposed to the asymmetrical, discolored malignant spots.”
“Malignant spots will also be itchy and may cause oozing or bleeding, while age spots don’t have that effect.”
It’s possible for a tumor not to be itchy, however. But still, it won’t look right. It will stand out in appearance from any nearby benign lesions.
It will be the oddball, the funny, weird or ugly looking spot that doesn’t resemble the others.
That’s the one that should get your attention and get evaluated by a dermatologist.
Melanoma can be brown, black or grey, but in addition to being asymmetrical, this cancer often presents with jagged or erratic edges, or more than one color in the lesion, such as brown and grey.
Another suspicious sign is that some portions of it may be elevated.
Yet another alarming sign is part of the border “leaking” out (in appearance, not literally) into the surrounding skin.
Dr. Shapiro is a board certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon and has treated over 12,000 Mohs cases for skin cancer. He is widely published in peer-reviewed academic journals.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.