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Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can be deadly if it’s not treated. But most forms of melanoma can be treated and even cured if detected early. You should do monthly skin checks to look for changes in your skin, and you may want to have a dermatologist perform a skin exam every year. 

Dermatologists are doctors that specialize in skin conditions, including melanoma. They can often diagnose melanoma before it spreads to other parts of your body. Dermatologists also treat melanoma using procedures like Mohs’ surgery. Talk to your doctor about whether you should have regular professional skin exams and, if so, how often.

What are the signs and symptoms of melanoma?

If you remember only one sign of melanoma, remember this one: If you have a spot on your skin that is changing or has changed in shape, size or color, you should have it checked out right away. Another sign to remember is called the ugly duckling sign – a spot on your skin that is different from other spots on your skin. 

The most common signs and symptoms of melanoma are:

  • A mole or lesion that has changed in size, shape or color
  • A mole or lesion that is bleeding or oozing
  • A mole or lesion that itches
  • A mole or lesion that is hard, lumpy or swollen
  • A mole or lesion that is tender or painful when you touch it
  • Sores that don’t heal
  • Color changes in your skin around a mole
  • Redness or swelling outside the area of a mole
  • Changes in a mole surface, like new bumps or lumps appearing or the mole turning scaly or becoming wart-like

Any time you notice an unusual mole, sore, lump or mark on your skin or you notice an area of your skin that feels or looks different than the rest of your body, you should have it checked out. It could be melanoma or another type of skin cancer.

Most melanoma lesions are brown or black, and they may have more than one color or shade of color. Most often, they have an irregular shape. The ABCDEs of melanoma may help you remember what to look for on your skin. 

Where is melanoma most likely to be found?

Men tend to develop melanoma on the head and neck or on the body between the shoulders and hips. Women tend to develop it on their arms and legs. However, melanoma can start anywhere, and if it’s not found and treated, it can quickly spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma spreads through the blood stream or the lymph system. 

Most people have moles, and almost all moles are harmless. But it’s important to recognize changes in a mole – such as in its size, shape, or color – that can suggest a melanoma may be developing. Some moles are more susceptible to developing melanoma than others, so it’s a good idea to know a bit about moles and what’s normal and abnormal.

Melanoma may appear in areas of the body that don’t have a lot of sun exposure and can even develop in areas that don’t have any sun exposure at all. For example, some people get melanoma on the palms, the soles of the feet, under the nails, in the eyes, in the mouth, in the lining of the nose, in the digestive or urinary tracts, and in the genital area. 

Who’s at risk for melanoma? 

Anyone can get melanoma, but there are some people who are at higher risk, such as people with light hair, skin, and eyes and people with a family history of melanoma. People with darker skin can get melanoma too, so it’s important for everyone to check their skin monthly.

Can melanoma be prevented?

One of the best things you can do to prevent melanoma is to limit your skin’s exposure to the sun. If you go outside, you should wear sunscreen and cover up your skin. If you do develop melanoma, you can help keep it from spreading by doing regular skin self-exams to look for changes that might be melanoma and ask your doctor whether you should see dermatologist for regular skin exams.

Learn more about melanoma prevention.

Melanoma care at Beaumont

Beaumont dermatologists can help you prevent melanoma and other forms of skin cancer by performing skin exams regularly. Talk to your doctor about your risks for developing melanoma and whether professional skin exams are right for you. Dermatologists can also diagnose and treat melanoma, including performing Mohs’ surgery.

Call 800-633-7377 today to schedule an appointment with a Beaumont Dermatologist or to get a referral.