Melanomas are not usually painful. The first sign is often a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of an existing mole. Melanomas can also appear as a new, black, or abnormal mole. Keep in mind that most people have moles and almost all moles are harmless. Report any changes that you see to your doctor.
Changes in Existing Moles
Spotting a mole that seems out of the ordinary may be the first warning sign of melanoma. The ABCDE rule highlights what a suspicious mole can look like:
A normal mole has a even shape all around. An asymmetrical mole has 2 halves that do not look the same. When you look at it, one side looks smooth and the other side looks jagged.
Moles on most people are brown and evenly colored. Some can also be tan and black. Changes may be seen with different shades of those colors. At times, you may notice white, gray, pink, or red mixed in. Focus on the changes and uneveness of the coloring.
Melanoma. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/cancers-of-the-skin/melanoma. Updated March 2019. Accessed May 8, 2019.
Melanoma: Signs and symptoms. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/melanoma#symptoms. Accessed May 8, 2019.
Signs and symptoms of melanoma skin cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-and-symptoms.html. Updated May 20, 2016. Accessed May 8, 2019.
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