Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer that often results from ultraviolet radiation via tanning beds and sun exposure. Other risk factors contributing to melanoma include a genetic history of skin cancer or having fair skin. Melanoma may be rare, however, it spreads faster and more aggressively than other types of skin cancer so treating it in later stages is quite difficult. Experts, therefore, advice on seeing a doctor as soon as you notice any of the following early warning symptoms of melanoma:
1. Irregular shaped spots and moles
This is usually the first sign of melanoma. Patients (or doctors during a skin examination) often notice an irregular spot or mole on the skin. It could be flat or raised, irregularly shaped and the edges may blur outward or not be smooth. Doctors often recommend using the ABCDE method to help determine if a mole may be cancerous:
- Asymmetry indicating the irregular shape of the mole.
- Border implying that the mole does not have a smooth edge. It may swell to other skin areas bordering the spot.
- Color: the mole is usually in black, tan or brown colors. In some cases the spot may turn to white or blue colors.
- Diameter; the mole is less than 6 mm size.
- Elevation: the spot on your skin will change over time in terms of the shape, color, texture and size as well.
If you identify a questionable mole, it is always advisable to get it examined by a physician.
2. Itchy sores
You may also experience sores that do not seem to heal even after time and with topical medications. These sores may be itchy and painful to touch.
3. Pigmentation around the spot
The spot may swell over time and turn a strane color (i.e., red in color). The swelling may also affect the skin surrounding the spot.
4. Bleeding or oozing
The mole or spot may bleed or ooze, or develop a crusty texture, especially when scratched. It may also take on an abnormal texture.
5. Temporary loss of sight
Sometimes, melanoma patients develop moles in the eyes, which can lead to a partial loss of sight, blurry vision, and even contribute to dark spots around the iris.