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Find out about possible signs and symptoms of melanoma skin cancer and when to see your doctor.

The earlier a melanoma is found, the easier it is to treat. So it's important to see your GP as soon as possible if you have any skin changes.

Moles to get checked out

See your doctor straight away if you have a new mole or skin change. Or you have a mole that is:

  • getting bigger
  • changing shape, particularly getting an irregular edge 
  • changing colour – getting darker, becoming patchy or multi shaded
  • loss of symmetry – the two halves of your mole do not look the same
  • itching or painful
  • bleeding or becoming crusty
  • looking inflamed

Moles with 3 or more different shades of brown or black are particularly likely to be melanoma.

If you have a dark area under a nail that is getting bigger and is not due to an injury you should also see your doctor.

Looking at photographs of abnormal moles and melanomas may help you to recognise what is not normal. Remember though, that not normal for you is what counts.

Where you might get melanoma

Melanomas in men are most common on the back. In women, the most common site is the legs.

Diagram showing where melanoma is most likely to develop on the body

If you have a swollen lymph node close to an abnormal mole, then you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Melanoma of the eye

Rarely, melanoma can start in the eye.

If it is growing in the coloured part of the eye (the iris), you may be able to see a dark spot.

If melanoma is growing inside the eye, there will be not be any outward sign. But you may have changes in your eyesight. This type of melanoma is most often diagnosed during a routine eye examination by an optician or eye specialist.

When to see your doctor

If you have any of these symptoms, you must get checked out by your GP. 

The earlier a melanoma is picked up, the easier it is to treat and the more likely treatment is to be successful. So go to your GP as soon as possible.

Information and help

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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.