Skin cancer (melanoma) - Symptoms 

Symptoms of melanoma 

Skin cancer and sun safety advice

Answers from specialists at our open clinic on skin cancer and sun safety

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

Normal moles are usually a single colour, round or oval in shape and not larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter. Melanomas are more likely to have an irregular shape, be more than one colour, and are often larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter. A melanoma may also be itchy and may bleed.

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

  • A stands for asymmetrical – melanomas have two very different halves and are an irregular shape.
  • B stands for border – unlike a normal mole, melanomas have a notched or ragged border.
  • C stands for colours – melanomas will be a mix of two or more colours.
  • D stands for diameter – unlike most moles, melanomas are larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter.
  • E stands for enlargement or evolution – a mole that changes characteristics and size over time is more likely to be a melanoma.

Melanomas can appear anywhere on your body, but the back, legs, arms and face are the most common locations. Sometimes, they may develop underneath a nail.

If you are concerned about one of your moles, see your GP as soon as possible.

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Page last reviewed: 01/10/2012

Next review due: 01/10/2014

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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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