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Melanoma Symptoms & Diagnosis


Melanomas are not usually painful. At first they often have no symptoms. The first sign is often a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of an existing mole. They may also appear as a new, dark, discolored, or abnormal mole. Remember that most people have moles. Almost all moles are benign.

The following are signs that a mole may be a melanoma:

  • Uneven shape—one half does not match the shape of the other half
  • Ragged edges—ragged, notched, blurred, or irregular; pigment may spread into surrounding skin
  • Uneven color—color is uneven with shades of black, brown or tan, and possibly even white, gray, pink, red, or blue
  • Change in size—usually growing larger; usually larger than the eraser of a pencil (5 mm or ¼ inch)
  • Change in texture—may begin to have fine scales; may become hard or lumpy in advanced cases
  • Bleeding—may start to itch or, it may ooze or bleed in more advanced cases

Sign of Potential Melanoma

Skin Cancer Sign: Irregular Border on Mole
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will look at your skin and moles. A biopsy will be taken of certain. Other moles will be watched over time.

The doctor may also examine lymph nodes. They may be in the groin, underarm, neck, or areas near the suspicious mole. Enlarged lymph nodes may suggest the spread of melanoma. The doctor may need to remove a sample of lymph node tissue to test for cancer cells.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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