Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the US, but do you know what symptoms point to this form of skin cancer? Spotting a potential skin cancer early allows you to get timely assessment and treatment if necessary, increasing your chance of successful cancer treatment. You might be aware that changes in a mole or unusual new skin growths can indicate cancer, but you need to know where to look and the possible signs of skin cancer.
Melanomas usually develop on areas of your skin that experience regular sun exposure such as your face, arms and legs. However, skin cancers can occur in areas that don’t get much exposure to the sun such as your palms, soles and under your nails. Melanomas may even arise within your mouth, digestive system or genitals, all of which may go unnoticed.
Normal moles tend to be round or an oval, though melanomas usually have an asymmetrical shape. Unsuspicious moles also have a distinct border, while those that are cancerous mostly have an irregular border. Healthy moles are usually a single color – most often brown or black – but melanomas are frequently a mix of colors. A mole larger than a quarter of an inch is another warning sign of skin cancer. Additionally, it is important that you monitor your moles over time for changes in shape, color and size, as well as moles that become itchy or bleed.
Although some cancerous moles display several of the changes mentioned here, in others there may only be a single suspicious change. The variation in how skin cancer presents is why it is important to seek medical advice if you notice any change in a mole or an unusual new growth on your skin.