Melanoma is a serious disease with large risks for your health, but if caught early, it can usually be treated with relatively minimal intervention. However, once the cancer has metastasized and spread to other areas of the body, it becomes more difficult to treat. That’s why catching it early is so important. Read on to make sure you know the early symptoms of melanoma and how to spot them.
In addition to the information on this page, you should get the SkinVision app here as a supportive tool, to check the spots you worry about and receive an instant risk indication.
Melanoma is diagnosed through a staging system with different outcomes and treatments advised for each stage. Stages range from one to four, with four being the most deadly form of the cancer. In stages one and two, the cancer is only present in the skin and hasn’t yet spread to other areas of the body. In stages three and four, the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other areas of the body.
The symptoms for stage one and two melanoma are typically the development of an atypical mole or skin lesion. While melanoma usually appears on the skin as a new spot or growth or a change in an already existing mole, in some cases, it can also occur on otherwise normal-looking skin.
Understanding which moles or lesions are cause for concern is key to staying on top of your skin health.
What’s a normal mole?
A normal mole will be even in color, quite small and will usually have appeared during the early part of your life. Most importantly, a normal mole will arrive and stay the same. It won’t change and it won’t evolve. That is what really makes it normal.
What are the symptoms of a cancerous mole?
A potentially cancerous mole will usually display these symptoms:
· develops a crust or a scab
· sometimes bleeds
· is itchy
· feels tender
· is getting bigger or swelling
· is strangely shaped (ie. not round)
· has borders that are irregular
· includes many different colors or shades
· is bigger than the size of a pencil eraser in diameter
· has appeared recently (ie. when you are an adult)
· has a changing surface texture
· looks different than other moles or spots around it
Sometimes melanoma will also present itself as:
· a dark streak under a toe or fingernail
· an area of dark skin around a toenail or fingernail
· a slow developing plaque of skin that resembles a scar
· a new patch or spot on your skin that looks like an age spot
These are usually signs of acral lentiginous melanoma. > Learn more about the different types of melanoma.
Keep your eyes open
While melanoma can take many different variations, staying alert to any changes in your skin is the best way to catch the cancer early. Perform head to toe skin checks monthly to spot any new or evolving moles or spots. If you are suspicious about anything, contact your healthcare provider immediately to get it checked out.
You can also use SkinVision to keep an eye on your moles, find out their potential risk for cancer and track changes over time. Download the SkinVision app for free.