Pictures of Melanoma

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  • The Dangers of Melanoma

    The Dangers of Melanoma

    Melanoma is one of the least common forms of skin cancer, but it’s also the most deadly type because it has the potential to spread to other parts of the body. Each year, about 76,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma and nearly 10,000 die from it, according to the American Cancer Society. Rates of melanoma are on the rise—especially among children and teens.

    Click through the slideshow to learn what to look for.

  • Moles


    Just about everyone has at least one mole, a flat or raised colored spot on the skin. These spots are caused when skin pigment cells called melanocytes assemble into clusters.

    Moles often pop up in childhood. By the time you reach adulthood, you may have 10 or more of them on your body. Most moles are harmless. Some stay exactly the same and never change, but others can grow or change shape or color. A few can turn cancerous.


  • Look for Changes

    Look for Changes

    The biggest clue that a spot on the skin might be melanoma is if it’s changing. A cancerous mole will change in size, shape, or color over time.

    Dermatologists use the ABCDE rule to help people spot the signs of melanoma on their skin:

    • Asymmetry
    • Border
    • Color
    • Diameter
    • Evolving

    Let’s see what each of these melanoma signs looks like on the skin.

  • Asymmetry


    A symmetrical mole will look exactly the same on both sides. If you drew a line down the middle, the edges of each side would match the other perfectly. In an asymmetrical mole, the two sides don’t match in size or shape. This is because cells on one side of the mole are growing faster than cells on the other side. Cancer cells tend to grow more quickly than normal cells, and in a more irregular pattern.

  • Border


    The edges of a normal mole will have a clear, well-defined shape. The mole is set apart from the skin around it. If the border seems fuzzy—like someone has colored outside of the lines—it could be a sign that the mole is cancerous. Ragged or blurred edges of a mole also have to do with the uncontrolled cell growth of cancer. 

  • Color


    Moles can come in many different colors: brown, black, or tan. As long as the color is solid throughout the mole, it’s probably normal and non-cancerous. But if you’re seeing a variety of colors in the same mole, it could be cancerous.

    A melanoma mole will have different shades of the same color—like brown or black—or splotches of different colors such as white, red, gray, black, or blue.


  • Diameter


    Moles usually stay within certain size limits. A normal mole measures about six millimeters (¼ inch) or less in diameter—roughly the size of a pencil eraser. Bigger moles can indicate signs of trouble. Moles also should stay the same size over time. A mole that’s growing larger could indicate that it needs to be checked out.

  • Evolving


    Change is never a good thing when it comes to moles. That’s why it’s important to do regular skin checks, and to keep an eye on any spots that are growing or changing shape or color. Beyond the ABCDE signs, look out for any other differences in the mole—like redness, scaling, bleeding, or oozing. 

  • See a Dermatologist

    See a Dermatologist

    By doing regular skin checks, you can spot possible skin cancer early enough for it to be treated. If you do find anything new or unusual on your skin, see a dermatologist for a more thorough skin check. They might take a sample of the mole—called a biopsy—to check for cancer. If the mole is cancerous, the goal will be to remove it before it has a chance to spread.