Understanding the Warning Signs for Melanoma


shutterstock_87740200Melanoma accounts for only one percent of skin cancer cases but results in a large proportion of skin cancer-related deaths. Given the potential severity of the condition, it’s crucial to fully understand the warning signs for melanoma, as early detection and clinical intervention are critical to managing this skin cancer.

The ABCDE Rule

In general, unusual looking lumps, blemishes, sores or moles may be indicators of melanoma or that there is danger of the disease occurring. Most people have moles or blemishes of some kind, and the vast majority is harmless.

The ABCDE rule is an effective way to distinguish harmless moles or spots from ones that potentially signify melanoma is present. If you notice any of the five following features with your moles, follow up with your dermatologist.

  • Asymmetry: If part of a mole doesn’t match the rest
  • Border: If the edges of the mole are blurred, irregular or ragged
  • Color: If the mole does not have the same color all over
  • Diameter: If the mole is more than 6mm in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser)
  • Evolving: If the mole continues to change shape, size, or color

Additional Signs

Not every melanoma fits neatly into the ABCDE rule. Other warning signs to look out for include redness or swelling beyond the mole’s border or moles that are painful, itchy or bleeding. Sores that simply won’t heal may be another symptom of skin cancer, so be sure to check with your dermatologist if you have any concerns.