Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body.
Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma
The most common signs of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole. This can happen anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affected areas are the back in men and legs in women. In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and are more than one colour. The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes be itchy or bleed. Look out for a mole that gradually changes shape, size and colour.
Types of Melanoma
Superficial spreading malignant melanoma are the most common type of melanoma in the UK. They are more common in people with pale skin and freckles, and much less common in people with darker skin. You should see a GP if you have a mole that is getting bigger, particularly if it has an irregular edge.
Nodular melanomas are a faster developing type of melanoma that can quickly grow downwards into the deeper layers of skin if not removed. Nodular melanomas usually appear as a changing lump on the skin that can be black to red in colour. They commonly grow on the head and neck, chest or back.
Lentigo maligna melanomas to start with are flat and develop sideways in the surface layers of the skin. They look like a freckle but they are usually larger, darker and stand out more than a normal freckle. They can gradually get bigger and change shape. At a later stage, they can grow downwards and form lumps (nodules).
Acral lentiginous melanomas are a rare type of melanoma that usually grow on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. They can also develop around a nail, most commonly the thumbnail or big toenail.
Amelanotic melanomas have little or no colour, but occasionally may be pink or red, or have light brown or grey edges.