Melanoma vs. Sarcoma: Identifying the Difference

Melanoma vs. Sarcoma: Identifying the Difference

Finding a lump or a new spot on your skin can be scary. You’re not sure what exactly it means or if it’s dangerous. The best thing you can do if you notice a lump or changing spot is to see a dermatologist as soon as possible. While you’re waiting to see your doctor, it’s good to do some research on your own so that you have a better understanding about what you are experiencing.

If you’re worried about melanoma or sarcoma, we’re going to help you discover the differences between the two by describing what each looks like and some common symptoms.

What Soft Tissue Sarcoma Looks Like

Sarcoma is a much less common type of cancer than melanoma. For comparison’s sake, 12,310 new soft tissue sarcomas are estimated to be diagnosed in 2016, while 76,380 new melanomas are expected to be diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Though uncommon, soft tissue sarcoma is very dangerous. It’s a type of cancer that develops from certain tissues, like bone or muscle. There are about 50 types of soft tissue sarcomas.

Soft tissue sarcomas grow in soft tissues, like fat, muscles or fibrous tissue. Though they can develop in any part of your body, more than half start in the arms and legs, according to the ACS. Unlike melanoma, they may appear as lumps on your body rather than lesions. You may see or experience the following if you have soft tissue sarcoma, according to ACS.

  • Lumps that are growing anywhere on your body. Soft tissue sarcoma is most commonly found in your arms or legs.
    • One of the nation’s leading sarcoma experts, Dr. Chappie Conrad, notes that sarcoma lumps tend to be more than a couple inches in size and the tissue is usually firm, according to Patient Power. These lumps don’t usually hurt either.
  • Abdominal pain that hurts more over time.
  • Stool that looks black and as if it is covered by tar.
  • Blood in your vomit or stool.

What Melanoma Skin Cancer Looks Like

Melanoma can look a lot like age spots and can develop in moles. That being said, it does not really look like sarcoma at all. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer in the world. Though it only accounts for less than one percent of skin cancer cases, melanoma causes the majority of deaths from skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. That’s why it’s imperative to see a doctor if you’re worried you have skin cancer. Melanoma is most commonly caused by UV rays from the sun or tanning beds.

If you see a strange spot on your skin or notice that a spot is changing, make sure you look for the ABCDE signs of melanoma, according to the Skin Care Foundation:

  • Asymmetry: If you draw an invisible line between the two sides of your mole and notice that they don’t match, then there is a chance you may have melanoma.
  • Border: In the early stages of melanoma, the border of your mole is typically scalloped, notched, or uneven.
  • Color: Melanoma moles can be made up of multiple shades of color, including brown, tan, black, red, white, or blue.
  • Diameter: While melanoma may be smaller when first detected, its diameter is usually larger than the eraser on a pencil tip.
  • Evolving: Melanoma tends to evolve or change over time. Be on the lookout for changes in size, color, elevation, shape, or any other feature. You should also check for symptoms like bleeding, crusting or itching.

We hope this article helps you to better understand the difference between melanoma and sarcoma. If you have recently developed a lump, a new spot on your skin, or noticed that a lump or a spot is changing, it’s best that you see your doctor as soon as possible.

If you have already seen a doctor and know that your spots are purely cosmetic, feel free to come into the True Skin Care Center in Chicago! We can help you improve the appearance of odd spots with non-surgical cosmetic treatments.