What Does Melanoma Look Like

Melanomas can vary greatly in how they look. Many show all of the ABCDE features. However, some may show changes or abnormal areas in only one or two of the ABCDE features.

An uneven border is one of the tell-tale signs of melanoma. By contrast, moles tend to have smoother, more even borders.

Can you spot the cancerous mole?
The mole guide: what does a cancerous mole look like?

Melanoma that is less than 1 millimeter thick has a low risk of spreading to other parts of the body. Melanoma thicker than 4 millimeters not only had a high risk of spreading ( metastasizing ) but also a high risk of returning (recurring) after treatment.

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What Moles Look Like

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Any changes in the color, size, or shape of a mole should be investigated. This includes changes in texture, such as sudden flaking or scaliness.

A large, asymmetrical melanoma that is more than 10 millimeters (about 1/2 inch) wide

What Does Melanoma Look Like

You will be asked some questions about your health, family medical history, medical conditions and your symptoms.

Around 15% to 20% of melanomas develop from existing moles, while 70% to 80% arise on seemingly normal skin.

Normal moles are usually only 1 colour.

How Can You Tell If It s a Mole or Skin Cancer

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Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that also develops from pigment-producing melanocytes. The primary cause of melanoma is overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds.

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What Melanoma Looks Like

Thinking of “ABCDE” can help you remember what to look for:

This may be an urgent referral, usually within 2 weeks, if you have certain symptoms. This does not definitely mean you have cancer.

Symptoms – Melanoma skin cancer


A melanoma with uneven color and an irregular border

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What Moles Look Like

By and large, the moles on a person’s body will all look the same. However, if you step back and look at them in their entirety, there may be some that stand out as being different, either in terms of color, size, or shape.

These “ugly ducklings” may be an early sign of melanoma.

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