Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops when melanocytes (the cells that give the skin its tan or brown color) start to grow out of control. Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can then spread to other areas of the body. Melanoma is much less common than some other types of skin cancers. But melanoma is more dangerous because it’s much more likely to spread to other parts of the body if not caught and treated early.
Signs and symptoms of Melanoma skin cancer
Melanomas can develop anywhere on our body. They most often develop in areas that have had exposure to the sun, such as your back, legs, arms and face. The first melanoma signs and symptoms often are:
- A change in an existing mole
- The development of a new pigmented or unusual-looking growth on your skin
Unusual moles that may indicate melanoma
To help you identify characteristics of unusual moles that may indicate melanomas or other skin cancers, think of the letters ABCDE:
- A is for asymmetrical shape. Look for moles with irregular shapes, such as two very different-looking halves.
- B is for irregular border. Look for moles with irregular, notched or scalloped borders — characteristics of melanomas.
- C is for changes in color. Look for growths that have many colors or an uneven distribution of color.
- D is for diameter. Look for new growth in a mole larger than 1/4 inch (about 6 millimeters).
- E is for evolving. Look for changes over time, such as a mole that grows in size or that changes color or shape. Moles may also evolve to develop new signs and symptoms, such as new itchiness or bleeding.
Other melanoma warning signs may include:
- Sores that don’t 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
- Blurry vision or partial loss of sight, or dark spots in the iris
Be sure to show your doctor any areas that concern you and ask your doctor to look at areas that may be hard for you to see. It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between melanoma and an ordinary mole, even for doctors, so it’s important to show your doctor any mole that you are unsure of.
(Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice. Please consult a doctor before starting any regime or medical advice.)
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