August 30, 2017 | Stephen Fine, Founder and President
CHANGE: The Most Important Melanoma Warning Sign
The appearance of melanomas can vary widely from one to another. They develop in many difference colors, sizes and other unique visual characteristics. For this reason, trying to discern whether a mole is cancerous just by looking at it isn’t a reliable method. Even dermatologists can’t always tell the difference based solely on appearance.
However, there is one distinctive warning sign that (nearly) always identifies a melanoma: change. it’s the most important reason why performing a regular monthly skin self-examination is so vital. It’s just as significant to check any pre-existing skin growths for change as it is to look for new ones.
What to Look for
This is a list of skin growth changes to help learn what it is you should be looking for:
– An increase in its diameter or elevation
– A change in its shape; especially if that shape has become irregular
– A change in its color or shade
– Persistent itching
– Any change in its surface, including:
- How it feels to your touch
- How it reacts to light (reflects)
- Development of one or more bumps- even if they’re small
- An ulceration (liquid-like appearance, such as found in an open sore)
- Bleeding spontaneously or upon minor trauma
Any of these changes that continue for 3 weeks or longer need to be checked out. Though any bleeding or ulcerations should be brought to the immediate attention of a dermatologist.
Please note that this list is a helpful guide, but it’s not all-inclusive. Any changes to skin growths that are not found here should not be ignored.
For more information about the two main types of melanoma, read our blog post Radial and Nodular Melanoma.