Symptoms of Melanoma


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General information about symptoms of Melanoma: The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible symptoms of Melanoma. This symptom information has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of symptoms of Melanoma. Furthermore, symptoms of Melanoma may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of symptoms and whether they are indeed symptoms of Melanoma.

List of symptoms of Melanoma: The list of symptoms mentioned in various sources for Melanoma includes:

Symptoms of Melanoma: Malignant melanoma usually begins as a mottled, light brown to black flat blemish with irregular edges and is at least one-quarter inch in size. It can turn red, blue or white, or bleed and crust on the surface. 1

Melanoma can occur on any skin surface. In men, it is often found on the trunk (the area from the shoulders to the hips) or the head and neck. In women, melanoma often develops on the lower legs. Melanoma is rare in black people and others with dark skin. When it does develop in dark-skinned people, it tends to occur under the fingernails or toenails, or on the palms or soles.2

Often, the first sign of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of an existing mole. Most melanomas have a black or blue-black area. Melanoma also may appear as a new, black, abnormal, or "ugly-looking" mole.

If you have a question or concern about something on your skin, do not use these pictures to try to diagnose it yourself. Pictures are useful examples, but they cannot take the place of a doctor's examination.

Thinking of "ABCD" can help you remember what to watch for:

  • Asymmetry -- The shape of one half does not match the other.

  • Border -- The edges are often ragged, notched, blurred, or irregular in outline; the pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.

  • Color -- The color is uneven. Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, grey, red, pink, or blue also may be seen.

  • Diameter -- There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas are usually larger than the eraser of a pencil (5 mm or 1/4 inch).

Melanomas can vary greatly in the ways they look. Many show all of the ABCD features. However, some may show changes or abnormalities in only one or two of the ABCD features.

Early melanomas may be found when a pre-existing mole changes slightly -- such as forming a new black area. Other frequent findings are newly formed fine scales or itching in a mole. In more advanced melanoma, the texture of the mole may change. For example, it may become hard or lumpy. Although melanomas may feel different and more advanced tumors may itch, ooze, or bleed, melanomas usually do not cause pain.2

More symptoms of Melanoma: In addition to the above information, to get a full picture of the possible symptoms of this condition and its related conditions, it may be necessary to examine symptoms that may be caused by complications of Melanoma, underlying causes of Melanoma, associated conditions for Melanoma, risk factors for Melanoma, or other related conditions.

Medical articles on symptoms: These general reference articles may be of interest:



Footnotes:
1. excerpt from Skin Cancer: NWHIC
2. excerpt from What You Need To Know About Melanoma: NCI

Last revision: June 2, 2003

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