Signs and symptoms of melanoma
How melanoma looks can vary greatly. If you have lots of moles, a melanoma usually stands out and looks different from other moles.
The first sign is often a new spot or a change in an existing mole:
|size||the spot may appear, or begin to grow larger|
|colour||the spot may become blotchy with different depths and shades of colour (often brown or black, but about 20% of melanomas are “amelanotic” and appear as red, white, light grey, pink or the colour of your skin)|
|shape or border||the spot may increase in height, become scaly, have an irregular shape (scalloped or notched) or not be symmetrical (the halves may look different)|
|itching or bleeding||the spot may itch or bleed very easily|
|elevation||the spot may start as a raised nodule or develop a raised area, which is often reddish or reddish brown|
New moles mostly appear during childhood and through to the 30s and 40s, as well as during pregnancy. However, adults of any age can have new or changing spots. It is important to get to know your skin and check it regularly. In a room with good light, fully undress and use a full-length mirror to check your whole body. For areas that are hard to see, use a handheld mirror or ask someone to help.
Look for spots that are new, different from other spots, or raised, firm and growing. Even if your doctor has said a spot is benign in the past, check for any changes in shape, size or colour. If you notice a new or changing spot, ask your doctor to examine it.
|Examining your skin regularly, or as recommended by your general practitioner (GP), will help you notice any new or changing spots.|
A/Prof Robyn Saw, Surgical Oncologist, Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW; Craig Brewer, Consumer; Prof Bryan Burmeister, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare Fraser Coast and Hervey Bay Hospital, QLD; Tamara Dawson, Consumer, Melanoma & Skin Cancer Advocacy Network; Prof Georgina Long, Co-Medical Director, Melanoma Institute Australia, and Chair, Melanoma Medical Oncology and Translational Research, Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; A/Prof Alexander Menzies, Medical Oncologist, Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney, Royal North Shore and Mater Hospitals, NSW; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Paige Preston, Chair, Cancer Council’s National Skin Cancer Committee, Cancer Council Australia; Prof H Peter Soyer, Chair in Dermatology and Director, Dermatology Research Centre, The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, and Director, Dermatology Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Julie Teraci, Clinical Nurse Consultant and Coordinator, WA Kirkbride Melanoma Advisory Service, WA.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.