Melanoma Warning Signs

Although melanoma isn't as common as other skin cancers, it can be incredibly dangerous if it isn't detected and treated early on. When melanoma is allowed to progress unchecked, it can eventually spread to other areas of the body, including the organs. Fortunately, there are several tell-tale signs of a developing melanoma that people can look for. Knowing these warning signs is important for knowing when to seek medical treatment.

The Ugly Duckling Sign

Any unusual sores, marks, or moles that develop on the skin are worth having your doctor examine. This is especially true if anyone in your family has been diagnosed with skin cancer before, or if you have other known risk factors. The ugly duckling sign for melanoma is the rapid or sudden development of any mole or other skin blemish that looks completely different from all other marks on your skin. Blemishes such as these are referred to as ugly ducklings given that they stand out from all other normal skin markings.

Changes in the Size, Color, or Texture of an Existing Mole

Normal moles usually have an even color all-around. They might be black, tan, or brown, and they can be either raised for flat. Normal, harmless moles come in both perfectly round and oval shapes, and they are generally smaller than the width of the average pencil eraser. Some people are born with moles, while others develop new moles all throughout adolescence and young adulthood. However, once people enter their thirties and forties, they should take care to have all of the new moles checked by their doctors.