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Dr. Mayzik
The most common signs of melanoma are a change in an existing mole or the appearance of a new mole. Dr. Alvarado, can you tell us more about skin changes that could indicate melanoma?

Dr. Alvarado
Certainly, Dr. Mayzik. There are two ways to look for suspicious skin changes. One is called the “ugly duckling” sign. If you have a mole or spot that looks or feels different from the surrounding moles -- an “ugly duckling” mole -- it could be a sign of melanoma.

Another way to look for suspicious skin changes is using the ABCDE rule. Each letter stands for a skin change feature that could be a sign of melanoma:

  • A stands for asymmetry. Look for moles or spots where, if split down the middle, one half would not match the other.
  • B stands for border. Moles or spots that have irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred borders should be considered suspicious.
  • C stands for color. Be aware of moles or spots that do not have uniform color. They may include different shades of brown or black, or they may contain patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  • D stands for diameter. A spot or mole larger than a quarter of an inch, about the size of a pencil eraser, could be melanoma.
  • E stands for evolving. Look for moles or spots that are changing in size, shape, or color.

Other warning signs of melanoma can include:

  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • The spread of pigment from the border of a spot into surrounding skin
  • Redness or a new swelling beyond the border of a mole
  • A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain, and
  • A change in the surface of a mole, such as scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump

If you discover any suspicious skin changes or moles, it’s vitally important to contact your healthcare provider immediately.