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What are the signs of melanoma?

Melanoma can vary greatly in the way it looks. In people who have lots of moles, melanoma usually stands out and looks different from the other moles. The first sign is often a new spot or occasionally 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 depths 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 shape (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.

New moles can appear during childhood and through to the 30s and 40s, as well as during pregnancy. However, adults should see their doctor to get a new mole examined, particularly if it is noticeably different from other moles or is raised, firm and growing. Even if you have had a mole checked before and it was considered benign, it is important to regularly check your skin for any change in shape, size or colour in the future. Talk to your doctor immediately about any changes.