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Melanoma (or skin cancer) can be tricky to discover because everyone has moles, markings, blemishes - slight changes that happen regularly as our bodies shed old skin and replenish. Though they can be difficult to spot, unusual changes or changes in existing skin markings can be symptoms of melanoma. While it's not necessary to see the doctor for every old and new skin marking, physicians do recommend seeing a dermatologist every six months if you have reasons to be concerned, such as family history or other conditions.

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Doctors advise patients to follow the ‘ABCDE’ rule when checking their skin for signs of melanoma. First, look for asymmetry (one part of a mole or birthmark is different from the rest of it), border (the edges are blurred or irregular), color (different colors within one marking, or odd colors such as blue, pink, or red), diameter (spot is larger than 6mm across), and evolution (noticeable changes to the shape, size, or color). While this checklist covers the common symptoms of melanoma, there are other signs that you should be aware of, including sores that don't heal, redness near the mole border, a spread of pigment, change in the appearance of a mole, and sudden pain, tenderness, or itchiness.

Common Symptoms

  • Markings that change
  • Unusual or new marking
  • Sores that won't heal
  • Markings with odd colors
  • Large markings
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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.