Symptoms of melanoma
About half of all melanomas start with a change in previously normal-looking skin.
This usually looks like a dark area or an abnormal new mole. Other melanomas develop from a mole or freckle that you already have.
This video looks at the symptoms of melanoma and how it's diagnosed.
To talk to someone about your questions and concerns about cancer, you can call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00
The information in this video was correct as of 1 October 2013.
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The ABCDE list
It can be difficult to tell the difference between a melanoma and a normal mole. The following checklist will give you an idea of what to look out for:
Asymmetry – Melanomas are likely to be irregular or asymmetrical. Ordinary moles are usually symmetrical (both halves look the same).
Border – Melanomas are more likely to have an irregular border with jagged edges. Ordinary moles usually have a well-defined, regular border.
Colour – Melanomas tend to be more than one colour. They may have different shades, such as brown mixed with a black, red, pink, white or bluish tint. Normal moles tend to be one shade of brown.
Diameter (width) – Melanomas are usually more than 7mm in diameter. Moles are normally no bigger than the blunt end of a pencil (about 6mm across).
Evolving (changing) – Look for changes in the size, shape or colour of a mole.
See your doctor straight away if you have:
any of the ABCDE signs, such as a mole that’s changing in size, shape or colour
any unusual marks on the skin that last for more than a few weeks
a mole that tingles or itches
crusting or bleeding of a mole
something growing under a nail or a new dark coloured stripe along part of the nail.
A good time to check your skin is after a bath or shower. Make sure you have plenty of light. Use a full length mirror and a small hand-held mirror for areas that are hard to reach. This will get easier with time, as you become more familiar with your skin and what your moles normally look like. You can ask your partner, a relative or friend to look at your back, neck and parts of your skin that are hard to see.
Looking out for these signs is very important as melanoma can usually be cured if it’s found at an early stage.
There are more symptoms of advanced melanoma.