Melanoma (Skin Cancer) - Symptoms

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What did your melanoma look like when you first noticed it? What was the size of the growth?

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What does melanoma look like? What are the symptoms and signs?

Guideline # 3: A changing spot may be a problem, but not every change is a problem. A mole may appear and then get bigger or become raised but still be only a mole.

Most public health information about melanoma stresses the so-called ABCDs:

  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole is different from the other half.
  • Border irregularity: The spot has borders which are not smooth and regular but uneven or notched.
  • Color: The spot has several colors in an irregular pattern or is a very different color than the rest of your moles.
  • Diameter: The spot is larger than the size of a pencil eraser.

These guidelines are somewhat helpful, but the problem is that many normal moles are not completely symmetrical in their shape or color. This means that many spots, which seem to have one or more of the ABCDs, are in fact just ordinary moles and not melanomas. Additionally, some melanomas do not fit this description but may still be spotted by your dermatologist.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: bikerbaker, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: November 20

In 1991, my teen daughter happened to notice a small, dark spot on my back. It was smaller than a pencil eraser and was not raised; just looked like a black mole. I didn't think much of it. Shortly after this, I scratched a mole on my upper arm and it became irritated. I then went to my dermatologist to have him remove it. While there, I asked him to take a look at my back. I could see his concern after examining the mole. He told me that my appointment for the mole on my arm had saved my life! The small mole on my back turned out to be a level 2. A large section was removed from my back in the doctor's surgical suite a couple weeks after the discovery. He felt confident that all margins were clear. It was a huge wake-up call for me with regard to sunbathing. A tan isn't nearly as attractive as life!

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Comment from: 4fish, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: April 23

I noticed a dark mole smaller than pencil eraser on inside of my upper thigh. Nothing special about it other than that the location seemed strange and it was darker than most of my moles. My dermatologist was not very impressed with it but her conservative nature said to do a biopsy. It came back as melanoma level "0". Very fortunate to catch it early.

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