Persons with the following characteristics may be at an increased risk for melanoma:
- blond or red hair
- blue eyes
- fair complexion
- family history of melanoma
- a changed or changing mole
- many ordinary moles (more than 50)
- many freckles
- an immunosuppressive disorder
- dysplastic nevi
- sun exposure The amount of time spent unprotected in the sun directly affects your risk of skin cancer.
- inability to tan
Dark-brown or black skin is not a guarantee against melanoma. African-Americans can develop this cancer, especially on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, under nails, or in the mouth.
What are the symptoms of melanoma?
The following are the most common symptoms of melanoma. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- change in the size, shape, or color of a mole
- oozing or bleeding from a mole
- a mole that feels itchy, hard, lumpy, swollen, or tender to the touch
Because most malignant melanoma cells still produce melanin, melanoma tumors are often shaded brown or black. Melanoma can also appear on the body as a new mole. Men most often develop melanoma on the area of the body between the shoulders and hips, or on the head or neck. Women most often develop melanoma on the arms and legs. However, melanoma can spread quickly to other parts of the body through the lymph system, or through the blood. Like most cancers, melanoma is best treated when it is diagnosed early.
The symptoms of melanoma may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.