Melanoma Symptoms

Melanoma Symptoms

Early melanoma symptoms

     The most important warning sign of melanoma is the changing of the size, shape or color of moles or other skin tumor, for example like a birthmark. It is recommended to monitor the changes that occur after a period of one month to 1-2 years. The ABCD rules of the American Skin Cancer Society must be used to evaluate skin changes and you should consult your family doctor if you experience one of the following changes:

  • A is for asymmetry. Half a mole or a skin tumor does not overlap with the other half
  • B is for irregular edges (border). The edges are ragged, notched or soiled
  • C is for color. Pigmentation is not uniform. Shades of tan, brown and black are present. Red lines, white and blue are added to the appearance of black spots. The change of distribution of colors, especially the spread of color from the edge of the mole to the surrounding skin, is also an early sign of melanoma
  • D is for diameter. The mole or the skin tumor is larger than 6 mm (0.2 in) or the size of a pencil eraser. Any increase of the mole should be a signal of concern.

Melanoma symptoms in the case of a mole include changes in:

  • Height - such as the invasion in depth or the ascension of the mole which used to be flat
  • Surface - like redness, swelling or appearance of new small spots of color around the larger lesion (satellite pigmentation)
  • Sensations of itching, tingling or burning to the lesion level
  • Brittle consistency, soft with small pieces that break easily.

     Melanoma can develop on an existent mole or other skin mark, but often it develops on a piece of free skin, without any sign. Even if melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin, it occurs most commonly in the chest both in men and women and on the legs in women. Less frequent it may develop on feet, hands, nail bed or in the mucous membranes that line the body cavities such as mouth, rectum and vagina.

     Many other diseases (such as seborrheic keratosis, warts and basal cell carcinoma) have similar features of melanoma, including the same melanoma symptoms.

Late melanoma symptoms

     The late symptoms of melanoma include:

  • An ulcerative skin lesion or bleeding from a mole or other colored skin lesion
  • A pain in moles or lesions.

     The symptoms of metastatic melanoma may be vague and include:

  • Lymphadenitis (swollen lymph nodes), especially the glands in the armpit or in the abdomen
  • A discolored part of the skin or a thick piece underneath the skin
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Leather gray

     The most common causes of melanoma are:

  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) between the hours 10-15 o'clock and exposure to high altitudes
  • The DNA damage in melanocytes following an exposure to sunlight and UV, radiation with short wavelength being the most important factor that causes melanoma
  • To the solar, the body is exposed to UV which also increase the risk of developing melanoma
  • The depletion of the ozone layer can significantly affect the incidence of melanoma. It is estimated that there is a 1% increase in the incidence of melanoma with each percentage of thinning of the ozone layer
  • In families of melanoma (multiple cases of melanoma in the same family)
  • Atypical moles
  • Weakened immune system, especially those with organ transplant, leukemia or lymphoma.