Skin cancer types: Melanoma Signs and symptoms

A mole that is evolving – shrinking, growing larger, changing color, begins to itch or bleed – should be checked. If a portion of the mole appears newly elevated, or raised from the skin, have it looked at by a doctor. Melanoma lesions often grow in size or change in height rapidly.

They are usu­al­ly larg­er than oth­er types of skin can­cer — often being at least six mil­lime­ters wide but can grow to sev­er­al cen­time­ters. This form of melanoma most often appears on the neck or face, espe­cial­ly on the nose and cheeks.

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The following pictures can help you see how the ABCDEs of melanoma can appear on the skin.

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Some­times, they resem­ble a tiny scar or acne that is heal­ing. The biggest thing to look for is the​‘E’ for​‘evo­lu­tion’ in the ABCDE guide — if you notice any changes in a mole or spot (no mat­ter what the colour), seek a clin­i­cal diag­no­sis as soon as possible.

These melanomas were all detect­ed on dif­fer­ent parts of the leg. In women, the legs are the most com­mon site of melanoma.

Skin cancer types: Melanoma Signs and symptoms

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What to look for: Usu­al­ly, the most obvi­ous warn­ing signs of ear­ly stage melanoma are changes to your moles or spots: in size, shape, colour or in how they look or how they feel. Melanoma can also appear as a new mole (more com­mon­ly in peo­ple aged 50 years or more).

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“Know­ing the ABCDE­FG rules is a sim­ple step we can all take to learn to recog­nise the ear­ly signs of melanoma and oth­er skin can­cers” says Niy­ati Shar­ma, Chief Med­ical Officer.

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

Lenti­go maligna grows slow­ly and often stays on the out­er sur­face of the skin. How­ev­er, if it starts grow­ing into the sec­ond lay­er of the skin, it becomes the more malig­nant form: lenti­go maligna melanoma.

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There are sev­er­al dif­fer­ent types of melanoma, includ­ing nodu­lar melanoma, super­fi­cial spread­ing melanoma, ame­lan­ot­ic or​‘pink’ melanoma, lenti­go maligna melanoma and acral lentig­i­nous melanoma and each looks a lit­tle different.

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Dark line beneath a nail

“Aus­tralia and New Zealand have the high­est inci­dence of melanoma in the world, which is why know­ing what to look for is so cru­cial. On a more pos­i­tive note, melanoma is almost always cur­able if it is detect­ed ear­ly — which is why I can’t stress this enough: if you notice any sus­pi­cious warn­ing signs, book a pro­fes­sion­al skin check as soon as possible.”

Image 2: Developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

Both forms of lenti­go maligna look like a flat or slight­ly raised brown patch, sim­i­lar to a freck­le or sun spot. They have a smooth sur­face and an irreg­u­lar shape. While they are usu­al­ly a shade of brown, they can also be pink, red or white.

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Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer caused by sun damage. BCC causes small bumps or open sores on the skin like this one. It is slow growing, and if not removed can spread into local underlying tissues.

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Know Your ABCDEs: ‘A’ is for Asymmetry

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If you find a spot on your skin that has any of the ABCDEs of melanoma, see a board-certified dermatologist for a skin exam.

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