Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer you can develop. It’s important to catch it early, before it spreads to other parts of the body.
But how do you tell a regular mole from one that warrants a visit to the doctor? Here are the key warning signs that the American Cancer Society says you should look for:
Asymmetry. The shape of one half of a melanoma growth often doesn’t match the other half. Normal moles tend to have a more symmetrical shape.
Irregular edges. A normal mole will typically have more smooth edges. In contrast, the edges of a melanoma growth are often ragged, irregular, notched, or “blurry” looking.
Color variations. A normal mole is often all one color, while a melanoma growth will contain multiple color variations. This could mean varying shades of black or brown, or even patches of red, pink, blue, or white. Redness that extends beyond the edge of the growth is also a warning sign.
Size. Melanoma growths are often at least as large as a 1/4 inch across (the size of a pencil eraser or bigger).
New growths. While it’s not uncommon to develop new moles as you age, be alert for new growths that are changing in shape, color, or size. Also watch out for so-called “ugly duckling moles” — that is, new moles that look decidedly different from other moles you have.
Changes in appearance. Normal moles are usually fairly stable in appearance. A growth that is changing in any way (like size, shape, or color) is cause for concern. So is a growth that becomes scaly or starts bleeding or oozing.
Changes in sensation. This includes a growth that becomes itchy, painful, tender, or swollen.