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Tumors of the Nails

By

Chris G. Adigun

, MD, Dermatology & Laser Center of Chapel Hill

Last full review/revision Dec 2019| Content last modified Dec 2019
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Topic Resources

A dark band in the nail may be the initial sign of malignant melanoma of the nail. Pigment cells of the nail-making tissue, known as the nail matrix, may become malignant and develop into a melanoma. A worrisome sign is known as Hutchinson sign. The Hutchinson sign is black, brown, or gray discoloration that extends to the area around the nail, such as the cuticle or nail fold (the fold of hard skin at the sides of the nail plate where the nail and the skin meet). This sign may mean there is melanoma in the nail bed (the soft tissue underneath the nail plate that attaches the nail to the finger). When this sign is present, doctors do a biopsy of the nail bed abnormality. Melanoma may also occur without the Hutchinson sign.

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