The most common symptoms associated with melanoma to look out for are new moles or freckles, or ones that have changed in appearance. As you know your skin best, yours are the most reliable pair of eyes when it comes to noticing any changes. It’s important to be mindful of all moles and freckles on your body and how they change and develop over time including:
- Color: You may notice a change in the color of moles or freckles. Black or two-tone moles are especially concerning.
- Raised moles or freckles: Where otherwise you would see these as being normally flat.
- Size: Freckles or moles that increase in size should be of concern. Those larger than a pencil eraser are most concerning.
- Bleeding or crusting: This could be a sign of an advanced skin cancer.
- A new mole or freckle: With prolonged sun damage it’s common for new moles or freckles to appear. You should keep a particularly close eye on these.
- Changes to the border of a mole or freckle: This includes crusting or irregular colors and textures that you would notice as abnormal.
- Itchy: This is not a normal sign of a healthy mole or freckle.
- Odd shape: If you once knew of a round mole that has changed to an oblong or square shape, then it’s worth getting it checked out.
- Tender to touch: If a mole or freckle never bothered you, but now it’s sensitive to touch, it’s time to get it looked at.
If you notice any of these changes in your moles or freckles, then you should set up an appointment with a skin specialist as soon as you can. While melanoma accounts for less than 1% of all skin cancer cancers, it accounts for the majority of skin cancer deaths.
The best way to detect any sign of melanoma is to regularly check your skin, especially for any moles or freckles that have changed appearance. While it’s normal and common to have many moles or freckles, if they aren’t the same as what they used to be, then it’s important to have a skin doctor examine them.
A yearly skin check should be conducted by a trained professional who uses special machines, including mole scan imaging and high tech microscopes. If your doctor is concerned with any areas of skin, he or she will order a biopsy. When conducting a biopsy, a local anesthetic by way of a needle will be used to numb the area where the mole is. Your doctor will then remove a small slice of the mole or freckle and send it off to a laboratory for further investigation.
Research and technology are growing so rapidly in the area of skin cancer, that in the near future computerized detection could be used to diagnose skin cancer.