Melanoma Cancer Symptoms & Signs
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Because many melanomas develop on the skin where they can be seen, there is a good chance of catching them early. Regular examination of the skin for any new or unusual growths, or changes in existing moles, is critical. If you find anything suspicious, you should discuss it with your primary care physician, a dermatologist (skin doctor) or a health care professional qualified to diagnose melanoma cancer.
Most moles are harmless. A normal mole is generally colored evenly (brown, black or tan), and are less than 6 mm in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser). They can be flat or raised, and generally do not change over time.
The Signs of Melanoma Skin Cancer
Signs of melanoma include new spots on the skin, or a change in size, shape or color of an existing mole. The ABCD rule is another way to recognize abnormal growths that may be melanoma skin cancer:
- A is for Asymmetry: A mole that has an irregular shape, or two different looking halves.
- B is for Border: Irregular, blurred, rough or notched edges may be signs of melanoma.
- C is for Color: Most moles are an even color – brown, black, tan or even pink – but changes in the shade or distribution of color throughout the mole can signal melanoma.
- D is for Diameter: Moles larger than ¼ inch (6 mm, the size of a pencil eraser) across may be suspect, although some melanoma cancers may be smaller than this.
Other melanoma cancer symptoms may include:
- Sores that do not heal
- Pigment, redness or swelling that spreads outside the border of a spot to the surrounding skin
- Itchiness, tenderness or pain
- Changes in texture or scales, oozing or bleeding from an existing mole
Since cancer symptoms may vary – and not all melanomas develop from moles – it is important to discuss any new or unusual skin growths with your doctor.
While many melanoma skin cancers develop in areas exposed to the sun, they may also develop in areas that are usually hidden from the sun. It is important to examine all of these areas. In addition to examining the legs, trunk, arms, face and neck, it is important to look at the areas between the toes, underneath nails, palms of the hands and soles of the feet, genitals and even the eyes.
NOTE: These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than cancer. It is important to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
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