Melanoma symptoms

Melanoma can vary greatly in the way it looks. In people who have lots of moles, melanomas stand out and look different from the other moles (known as the ‘ugly duckling’).

The first sign is usually a new spot or a change in an existing mole:

  • size – the spot may appear or begin to grow larger
  • colour – the mole may become increasingly blotchy with different depth and shades of colour (brown, black, blue, red, white, light grey, pink or skin-coloured)
  • shape or border – the spot may increase in height, become scaly, have an irregular edge (scalloped or notched) or lack symmetry (the halves look different)
  • itching or bleeding – the mole may itch or bleed at times
  • elevation – the spot may start as a raised nodule or develop a raised area, which is often reddish or reddish brown.

It is normal for new moles to appear and change during childhood and teenage years, and during pregnancy. However, all adults who develop a new mole should see their doctor to get it examined, particularly if it is noticeably different from your other moles or is raised, firm and growing.

Even if you have had a mole checked before and it was benign, it is important to monitor your skin as the mole could change in the future. Talk to your doctor immediately about any changes.

Examining your skin every three months, or as recommended by your GP, will help you notice any new or changing spots.
This information was last reviewed in January 2017
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