Symptoms of melanoma 

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