Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma Skin Cancer

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If you notice unusual moles, sores, blemishes, marks, lumps or changes in your skin’s appearance or texture, you may be seeing early signs of a skin cancer like melanoma. It is important to keep an eye on these skin conditions and gain a doctor’s advice for any unusual skin spots or changes.

What does a normal mole look like?

A normal mole features even brown, black or tan color as a spot on your skin. Moles are either flat or raised from the skin’s surface, either round or oval. Most moles measure less than six millimeters or about a quarter inch across. This makes them about the width of a pencil eraser. You are born with some moles or they appear in childhood or young adult years. Have your doctor check any moles appearing beyond adolescence.

Fully developed moles stay the same shape, color and size for years. Some eventually go away on their own but most remain in a harmless state. Any moles changing size, color or shape may point to possible melanoma.

Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma

Melanoma provides several warning signs. Foremost is a newly developed spot on your skin changing in shape, size or color. Spots appearing different from your other moles also indicate a possibility of melanoma. These warning signs mean you need your skin checked by a doctor.

The ABCDE rule is a general rule guiding melanoma detection. If any of these ABCDE rule signs appear on your skin, you need a doctor’s examination. The ABCDE rule signs of melanoma include:

  • A, for Asymmetry – One half of your mole or birthmark does not look like the other half
  • B, for Border – Your mole features ragged, irregular, notched or blurred edges
  • C, for Color – Your mole’s color is inconsistent with different shades of brown, black, pink, red, white or blue
  • D, for Diameter – Your spot is larger than one quarter inch, the size of a pencil eraser
  • E, for Evolving – The mole changes in shape, size or color

Other Warning Signs of Melanoma

While these rules help identify possibly cancerous moles, not all melanomas fit the ABCDE rules. So it is very important that you tell your doctor about any new spots or changes on your skin, particularly when one mole or more look differently than others.

Other warning signs of melanoma include:

  • Sores that do not heal
  • Pigment spreading from the border of the mole into skin around it
  • Redness or swelling beyond the mole’s border
  • Itching, tenderness, pain or other sensations on a mole
  • Scaliness, bleeding, oozing or other changes in the mole’s appearance

Always alert your doctor to any areas where you notice change. Your doctor also should screen areas you cannot see, such as your back, for problem skin.