Melanoma Signs and Symptoms

Because melanoma is a type of cancer that is likely to spread, catching it early can greatly improve your chance of being cured.

In general, keep an eye out for moles or any such skin blemishes that are changing, new, or in any way unusual. Melanomas can appear on parts of the body that are exposed to sun, as well as areas that stay covered. While this cancer can develop anywhere, in women it frequently shows up on the legs, and in men it frequently shows up on the trunk (the central torso of the body from which the limbs and neck extend).

In particular, watch any moles for the “ABCDE” warning signs of melanoma. If you notice any of these symptoms, see your dermatologist. 

  • Asymmetry (A): Unlike a common mole, which tends to be symmetrical, one side of a melanoma doesn’t match the other.
  • Border (B): Unlike the smooth edges of a common mole, melanoma borders appear uneven, possibly with notched or scalloped edges.
  • Color (C): While moles are usually a consistent brown color, melanomas could have shades of tan, black, or brown. Red, blue, or white may also appear as it grows.
  • Diameter or Dark (D): If a lesion is as large as the diameter of a pencil eraser (1/4 inch) or if it appears unusually dark, it could be melanoma.
  • Evolving (E): Changes in color, shape, or size, or new symptoms such as itching, crusting, or bleeding could all indicate melanoma.