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is the most serious type of skin cancer. It forms in cells called melanin that make skin color. Melanoma may appear as a new mole, or in moles you already have.

Signs and symptoms of melanoma:

Melanoma is described based on the ABCDE system:

  • A symmetry means if a line is drawn through the middle of the mole, the 2 halves are not equal.
  • B order means the edges of the mole are not smooth.
  • C olors include blue, black, brown, or red.
  • D iameter means the size of the mole is larger than a pencil eraser.
  • E volution means the mole changes. This may include changes in appearance, changes in symptoms, such as bleeding, or changes in shape, size, or color. The area may also itch or feel hard, lumpy, swollen, or tender.
    Melanoma ABCDE

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a mole that changes in shape, size, color, or texture.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Surgery may be needed to remove melanoma from a larger area of skin. Surgery may also be done if the cancer has spread into the lymph nodes or other parts of your body.
  • Biological therapy is used to help your immune system fight the cancer.
  • Chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy uses x-rays to kill cancer cells.

Take care of your skin:

  • Protect your skin from the sun's ultraviolet (UVA UVB) rays:
    • Wear sunscreen that has an SPF (sun protectant factor) of 30 or higher. Make sure it has UVA and UVB protection. Follow directions when you use sunscreen. Put on more sunscreen if you swim, sweat, or are in the sun for longer than an hour. Protect your lips by using lipsticks and lip balms that contain sunscreen.
    • Stay out of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm. This is when the sun is strongest and most damaging to your skin.
    • Wear protective clothing. Long-sleeved shirts and pants will protect your arms and legs when you are out in the sun. A wide-brimmed hat can protect both your face and neck. Wear sunglasses that have UVA and UVB protection.
  • Do not use tanning booths. These can damage your skin as much as the sun can.
  • Look for new bumps on your skin every week. Check your entire body, including your scalp. Look for moles that change in shape, size, color, or texture. Know what your regular birthmarks and moles look like.

Follow up with your doctor or oncologist as directed:

You will need to be seen at least every 3 months for the first 2 years. After that, your oncologist may want to see you every 6 months. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Melanoma (Ambulatory Care)

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.