The first sign of melanoma is usually a changing, irregular spot on the skin that looks different from other spots. Melanoma can start in a mole that you’ve had for years, or it may be a new spot on the skin.
Talk to your doctor if you notice a spot on your skin that is suspicious for melanoma. Melanoma is a serious condition. It is easier to treat when it is found early.
Do U C Melanoma?
Melanoma can look different for each person. “Do U C Melanoma” is a memory aid that can help you understand what you should be looking for. Some melanomas may have several of these features. Others may show all of the features.
D Is for Different (Ugly Duckling Sign)
Do you see any spots that look or feel different from the others? This is also referred to as the ugly duckling sign.
U Is for Uneven
Is the border or shape of the spot uneven? What about the color or texture? Melanoma often appears as uneven, irregular, or asymmetric in some way.
C Is for Changing
Look out for spots that change in size, shape, or color over time. This may happen over the course of weeks, months, or years.
Signs of Advanced Melanoma
Most early-stage melanoma exhibits one or several of the features described in Do U C Melanoma. As the disease progresses, the texture of the melanoma may change. The affected area may become hard or lumpy. It may also ooze or bleed, or be painful to the touch.
Signs of Rare Melanomas
Melanoma can develop on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, as well as under the fingernails and toenails. When it forms under the nails, melanoma may look like fungus or blood under the nail. This rare form of melanoma is called acral lentiginous melanoma. It can affect people of all skin colors and ethnic backgrounds.
In rare cases, melanoma may not have a brown or black color at all. It may look pink, red, or purple instead. These are called amelanotic melanomas because they lack the dark pigment, or melanin, that characterizes most melanomas. Amelanotic melanomas can be easily overlooked. They are often found later than melanomas with melanin pigment. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to any unusual spot on your skin regardless of color.