Skin cancer types: Melanoma Signs and symptoms

Quiz: Could you spot a melanoma on your child’s skin?
Melanoma can look different on a child’s skin. Taking this short quiz can help you hone your skills at finding childhood melanoma.

Mole and freckle removal: Information about radiofrequency surgery and BBL intense pulsed light for cosmetic removal of moles and freckles.

People with many freckles usually have fair skin. Melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and other skin cancers are all more common in fair-skinned people with many freckles.

Can you spot the cancerous mole?

Spot the difference

Skin Cancer: Freckles Skin Cancer

Body mole map
Use this diagram to draw the moles and other spots on your skin so that you can spot a change early.

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Dark line beneath a nail

Performing a skin self-exam as often as recommended by your dermatologist is the best way. While examining your skin, you want to look for the following:

Larger freckles that appear later in life are sometime scalled lentigines, “age spots” or “liver spots”, but they aren’t related to liver function.

Melanoma is a skin cancer that can show up on the skin in many ways. It can look like a:

Skin cancer types: Melanoma Signs and symptoms

The mole guide: what does a cancerous mole look like?

Strictly speaking, melanomas and skin cancers are separate from moles. Their structure and behaviour are different—although their appearance is sometimes very similar. To a skin cancer doctor or dermatologist, moles and freckles aren’t “cancerous” by definition. They are normal non-cancer growths or pigmentation of the skin.

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Can moles and freckles be cancerous?

Image 2: Developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

Melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin, including the bottom of the foot, where it can look like a bruise as shown here.

A skin tag is made up of collagen fibres and blood vessels, covered by normal skin. It may be the same colour as or darker than the surrounding skin.

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Funny-looking moles are also called atypical naevi or dysplastic naevi. These moles are basically normal moles with some unusual features such as large size or an odd shape with blurred edges or a flat and bumpy surface. Funny-looking moles may look like melanoma but are actually harmless ( benign ) spots that don’t need to be removed. However, if you have a few, particularly five or more of these funny-looking moles, your chance of getting a melanoma is increased. If you are unsure about any of your funny-looking moles it’s best to get them checked out.

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Brown spots and freckles

Would you mistake these melanomas for odd-shaped moles?

Image 9: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (J Am Acad Dermatol 2006;55:741-60.)

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cancerous freckles

Freckles are small flat brown marks that most often appear on the face and other exposed parts of the body in the summer months. They are most often seen in fair-skinned people with red hair but can be seen in people with darker skin colour too. Freckles are formed when the skin is exposed to the sun. Freckles are harmless, but if one starts to look funny compared to others then it’s best to get it checked out.

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Funny-looking moles

Both show the A (asymmetrical shape) and B (border uneven) of melanoma. The melanoma on the right shows the C (color varies).

Barnhill RL, Mihm MC, et al. “Malignant melanoma.” In: Nouri K, et al. Skin Cancer. McGraw Hill Medical, China, 2008: 140-167.

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