Skin cancer (melanoma) - Symptoms 

Symptoms of melanoma 

Girl applying sun block

Sun safety Q&A

Stay safe in the sun, including sunscreens, sunburn, heat exhaustion, eczema, child safety and moles

The first sign of a melanoma is often a new mole or a change in the appearance of an existing mole.

Normal moles are usually round or oval, with a smooth edge, and no bigger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter.

See your GP as soon as possible if you notice changes in a mole, freckle or patch of skin, especially if the changes happen over a few weeks or months.

Signs to look out for include a mole that is:

  • getting bigger
  • changing shape
  • changing colour
  • bleeding or becoming crusty
  • itchy or painful

A helpful way to tell the difference between a normal mole and a melanoma is the ABCDE checklist:

  • Asymmetrical – melanomas have two very different halves and are an irregular shape.
  • Border – melanomas have a notched or ragged border.
  • Colours – melanomas will be a mix of two or more colours.
  • Diameter – melanomas are larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter.
  • Enlargement or elevation – a mole that changes size over time is more likely to be a melanoma.

Melanomas can appear anywhere on your body, but they most commonly appear on the back, legs, arms and face. They may sometimes develop underneath a nail.

In rare cases, melanoma can develop in the eye. Noticing a dark spot or changes in vision can be signs, although it is more likely to be diagnosed during a routine eye examination.

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Page last reviewed: 10/10/2014

Next review due: 10/10/2016

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Tomo432 said on 07 July 2013

I've just recently got back from spending a week in Spain and I have noticed light moles (hard to see from afar) appear on my arms and one/two on my leg. Should I be concerned and consult my GP to be on the safe side?

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