Often, the first sign of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color or feel of an existing mole. Most melanomas have a black or blue-black area. Melanoma also may appear as a new, black, abnormal or "ugly-looking" mole.
Rarely, melanoma is not pigmented and is more difficult to diagnose. It may appear as a non-healing ulcer or a new scar-like lump in the skin.
The warning signs are sometimes referred to as ABCDE:
The "ABCDE" rule is an easy guide to the usual signs of melanoma.
Some melanomas don't fit the ABCDE rule, so it's important to be aware of changes in skin markings or new spots.
Other warning signs are:
Contact your primary care doctor or dermatologist if you find changes that match the ABCDE signs or these other warning signs.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.