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What Are the Signs of Melanoma?

What Are the Signs of Melanoma?

Melanoma is an uncommon skin cancer that accounts for only about 1% of all skin cancers. But despite its relative rarity, it’s the most deadly type of skin cancer, requiring rapid diagnosis to prevent it from spreading.

Melanoma happens when pigment-producing cells called melanocytes grow out of control. About 100,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma every year, mostly whites. While the number of melanoma cases has increased in recent years, advances in treatment have resulted in a reduction in mortality.

A leading skin cancer specialty practice in Las Vegas, Nevada, Desert West Surgery offers comprehensive melanoma treatment, focusing on eliminating cancer while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible. In this post, our team reviews some common melanoma warning signs to look for, so you can seek treatment immediately.

The ABCs of melanoma

Researchers developed the ABCDE system for mole evaluation to make it easier to identify some of the most common changes associated with melanoma, where each letter stands for a specific type of change. 


Imagine drawing a line through the center of a mole. In most moles, each side will look similar. If melanoma is present, these sides often demonstrate asymmetry or differences in how each side looks.


Most moles have relatively smooth borders. With melanoma, the outer edge or border is often uneven, ragged, notched, or scalloped.


Moles are one consistent color, usually a single shade of tan or brown. With melanoma, moles can change colors, display unusual colors, or show up with combinations of black, brown, blue, white, purple, or pink. In rare instances, melanomas can be colorless or appear clear. 


Melanomas can range in size, but many are larger than a typical mole. It needs to be checked if you have a mole that’s the size of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm) or larger.


Like most cancers, melanomas grow and spread over time. If you have a mole that’s changed in its appearance or developed other symptoms, like itching, flaking, or bleeding, it’s time to schedule a skin evaluation.

The ugly duckling sign

This indicator may not fit the ABCDE pattern, but it is still essential. Most people have moles that look similar to one another. If you have a mole that looks different — an “ugly duckling” mole — that’s another sign that could indicate melanoma.

Skin evaluations are still critical

The ABCDEs provide a rough framework for understanding what changes to look for, but it is no substitute for a professional skin exam. Melanoma can have deadly consequences if it’s not caught and treated early. 

Suppose you have any unusual-looking moles or growths. In that case, if you have an existing growth that changes in size, shape, color, or texture, or if a mole or growth begins to itch, flake, or bleed, it’s crucial to call the office and schedule a skin exam immediately. To schedule your exam or to learn more about melanoma and its diagnosis and treatment, call Desert West Surgery and visit the Las Vegas location nearest you.

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