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Moles: Signs and symptoms


What's the difference between a mole and melanoma?

People often want to know how they can tell a mole from a melanoma. Here is a general rule.

Mole

A mole on your body usually has these traits. It's:

  • One color—often brown, but a mole can be tan, black, red, pink, blue, skin-toned, or colorless

  • Round in shape

  • Flat or slightly raised

  • Unchanged from month to month

Although moles have a distinct look, they may not look alike. Even in the same person, moles can differ in size, shape, or color. Moles can have hair. Some moles will change slowly over time, possibly even disappearing.

It's also important to know that moles can appear anywhere on the skin. They can develop on your scalp, between your fingers and toes, on the soles and palms, and even under your nails.

Melanoma

The most-serious skin cancer differs from moles in that it tends to show one or more of the following traits:

A = Asymmetry. One half is unlike the other.

B = Border. An irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border.

C = Color. Is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown, or black; is sometimes white, red, or blue.

D = Diameter. Melanoma are usually greater than 6 mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.

E = Evolving. A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape, or color.​

How to SPOT Skin Cancer™ - ABCDEs of Melanoma

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. However, when detected early, melanoma is highly treatable. Use the information in this infographic to help identify the warning signs of melanoma.

ABCDEs of Melanoma

If you see a mole or new spot on your skin that has any of the ABCDEs of melanoma, immediately make an appointment to see a dermatologist.


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