Melanoma (a type of skin cancer)

Melanoma is considered the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It can appear on normal skin or it may begin as a mole or other area that has changed in appearance. Some moles that are present at birth may develop into melanomas. Melanoma may also involve the colored part of the eye. Melanoma is not as common as other types of skin cancer. However, the rate of melanoma is steadily increasing.

Risk Factors for Developing Melanoma:

  • Fair skin, blue or green eyes, red or blond hair
  • Living in high altitudes or sunny climates
  • Spend a lot of time outdoors because of work or other activities
  • One or more blistering sunburns as a child
  • Use of indoor tanning equipment

Melanoma Symptoms:

A mole, sore, lump, or growth on the skin can be a sign of melanoma or other skin cancer. A sore or growth that bleeds, or changes in skin coloring may also be a sign of skin cancer. The ABCDE system can help you remember possible symptoms of melanoma:

Asymmetry: One half of the abnormal area is different from the other half.

Borders: The edges of the growth are irregular.

Color: Color changes from one area to another, with shades of tan, brown, or black, and sometimes white, red, or blue. A mixture of colors may appear within one sore.

Diameter: The spot is usually (but not always) larger than 6 mm in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser).

Evolution: The mole keeps changing appearance.

If you have any of these persistent symptoms or signs that are of particular concern, please consult your physician.

For more information about Melanoma go to:

National Cancer Institute

Skin Cancer

U.S. National Library of Medicine

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