Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin — the pigment that gives your skin its color. Melanoma can also form in your eyes and, rarely, inside your body, such as in your nose or throat.
The actual reason why all melanomas occur is unknown, although being exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunshine, tanning beds, or tanning lamps increases your risk of getting the disease. You can lower your chance of developing melanoma by limiting your exposure to UV light.
Melanoma risk appears to be rising among those under 40, particularly women. The detection and treatment of malignant alterations prior to the progression of the disease can be made possible by being aware of the warning symptoms of skin cancer. If melanoma is found early on, it can be successfully treated.
The palms of your hands, the bottoms of your feet, and the undersides of your fingernails are examples of places where melanomas can develop that don’t get a lot of sun exposure. People with darker skin are more likely to have these concealed melanomas.
Initial melanoma symptoms and indications frequently include:
A modification to an existing mole
the appearance of a new, pigmented growth or other uncharacteristic feature on your skin
Moles are not typically the first sign of melanoma. It can even happen on skin that appears to be normal otherwise.
Normal moles typically have a definite border separating them from the surrounding skin and are a uniform hue, such as tan, brown, or black. The size of a pencil eraser, they are typically less than 1/4 inch (approximately 6 millimeters) in diameter and oval or round.
Most moles first develop in childhood, and they can continue to grow up until roughly age 40. Most people have between 10 and 40 moles by the time they reach adulthood. Age can cause certain moles to disappear or change their appearance over time.
Consider the letters ABCDE to help you recognize characteristics of odd moles that could signify melanomas or other skin cancers:
A represents a skewed shape. Look for moles with asymmetrical features, such as two parts with distinct appearances.
B stands for a wavy border. Seen on melanomas are moles with uneven, notched, or scalloped borders.
C stands for color changes. Keep an eye out for growths with a variety of hues or a lopsided distribution of colors.
D represents diameter. In a mole that is larger than 1/4 inch, look for fresh growth (about 6 millimeters).
E stands for evolution. Watch for alterations over time, such as a mole that expands or changes in size, color, or shape. Additionally, moles might change over time and produce new irritation or bleeding.
The appearance of cancerous (malignant) moles varies widely. While some may exhibit all of the aforementioned alterations, others might just exhibit one or two peculiar traits.