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Mole with dark spot in middle: Melanoma Warning Signs and Images

Melanoma Warning Signs and Images

Finding melanoma at an early stage is crucial; early detection can vastly increase your chances for cure.

Look for anything new, changing or unusual on both sun-exposed and sun-protected areas of the body. Melanomas commonly appear on the legs of women. The number one place they develop on men is the trunk. Keep in mind, though, that melanomas can arise anywhere on the skin, even in areas where the sun doesn’t shine.

Most moles, brown spots and growths on the skin are harmless – but not always. The ABCDEs and the Ugly Duckling sign can help you detect melanoma.

Early detection makes a difference

5-year survival rate for patients in the U.S. whose melanoma is detected early. The survival rate drops to 68% if the disease reaches the lymph nodes and
30% if it spreads to distant organs.

The ABCDEs of melanoma

The first five letters of the alphabet are a guide to help you recognize the warning signs of melanoma.

A is for Asymmetry. Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves don’t match, so it looks different from a round to oval and symmetrical common mole.

B is for Border. Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges. Common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders.

C is for Color. Multiple colors are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black. As it grows, the colors red, white or blue may also appear.

D is for Diameter or Dark. While it’s ideal to detect a melanoma when it is small, it’s a warning sign if a lesion is the size of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm, or ¼ inch in diameter) or larger. Some experts say it is important to look for any lesion, no matter what size, that is darker than others. Rare, amelanotic melanomas are colorless.

E is for Evolving. Any change in size, shape, color or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, may be a warning sign of melanoma.

If you notice these warning signs and symptoms, or see anything NEW, CHANGING or UNUSUAL on your skin see a dermatologist promptly.

A is for Asymmetry

B is for Border

C is for Color

D is for Diameter or Dark

E is for Evolving (Before)

E is for Evolving (After)

Please note: Since not all melanomas have the same appearance, these photos serve as a general reference for what melanoma can look like. If you see anything NEW, CHANGING or UNUSUAL on your skin, go get checked by a dermatologist.

Look out for an ugly duckling

The Ugly Duckling is another warning sign of melanoma. This recognition strategy is based on the concept that most normal moles on your body resemble one another, while melanomas stand out like ugly ducklings in comparison. This highlights the importance of not just checking for irregularities, but also comparing any suspicious spot to surrounding moles to determine whether it looks different from its neighbors. These ugly duckling lesions can be larger, smaller, lighter or darker, compared to surrounding moles. Also, isolated lesions without surrounding moles for comparison are considered ugly ducklings.

Melanoma can be tricky

Identifying a potential skin cancer is not easy, and not all melanomas follow the rules. Melanomas come in many forms and may display none of the typical warning signs.

It’s also important to note that about 20 to 30 percent of melanomas develop in existing moles, while 70 to 80 percent arise on seemingly normal skin.

Amelanotic melanomas are missing the dark pigment melanin that gives most moles their color. Amelanotic melanomas may be pinkish, reddish, white, the color of your skin or even clear and colorless, making them difficult to recognize.

Acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM), the most common form of melanoma found in people of color, often appears in hard-to-spot places, including under the fingernails or toenails, on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet. View images.

The takeaway: Be watchful for any new mole or freckle that arises on your skin, a sore or spot that does not heal, any existing mole that starts changing (growing, swelling, itching) or any spot, mole or lesion that looks unusual.

Acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM) is the most common melanoma found in people of color.

What you can do

Check yourself: No matter your risk, examine your skin head-to-toe once a month to identify potential skin cancers early. Take note of existing moles or lesions that grow or change. Learn how to check your skin here.

When in doubt, check it out. Because melanoma can be so dangerous once it advances, follow your instincts. Visit your doctor if you see a spot that just doesn’t seem right.

Keep in mind that while important, monthly self-exams are not enough. See your dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin exam.

If you’ve had a melanoma, follow up regularly with your doctor once treatment is complete. Stick to the schedule your doctor recommends. This ensures that you identify any recurrence as early as possible.

Reviewed by:
Allan C. Halpern, MD
Ashfaq A. Marghoob, MD

Ofer Reiter, MD

Last updated: January 2021

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Skin Cancer Pictures – The Skin Cancer Foundation

Skin cancer can happen to anyone, at any age, on any part of the body. And because skin cancers appear in many shapes and sizes, they can be challenging to identify. While skin cancer pictures can be helpful in learning what skin cancer can look like, getting to know your own skin and understanding what to look for can help you detect cancer early when it’s easiest to cure.

That’s why you should examine your skin once a month. If you see something NEW, CHANGING OR UNUSUAL – even if it looks nothing like what you see in photos – do not wait! Get it checked by a dermatologist right away. Finding and treating skin cancer early can save your life.

Skin Cancer Image Gallery

What does cancer look like on skin? Below is a selection of photos that give you a general idea about what skin cancers can look like. Remember that skin cancers can look quite different from one person to another due to skin tone, size and type of skin cancer and location on the body. Skin cancer can be tricky in other ways, too. For example, melanoma is a type of skin cancer that is often pigmented tan, brown, black, even blue. But amelanotic melanoma lacks pigment and appears as a skin-tone or pink lesion.

To sum it up, while photos can be helpful, getting your skin examined by a dermatologist is the most vital step in identifying and treating skin cancer.

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma Photos
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma Photos
  • Melanoma Photos
  • Merkel Cell Carcinoma Photos
  • Actinic Keratosis
  • Rare Skin Cancers

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) Photos

For information on basal cell carcinoma signs and symptoms, visit our BCC Warning Signs page.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) Images

For information on squamous cell carcinoma signs and symptoms, visit our SCC Warning Signs page.

Melanoma Photos

Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) Pictures

For information on Merkel cell carcinoma signs and symptoms, visit our MCC Warning Signs page.

Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis (also known as solar keratosis) is the most common precancer. For more photos and information on actinic keratosis warning signs and symptoms, visit our Actinic Keratosis Warning Signs page.

Rare Skin Cancers

Please visit our Rare skin cancers page for more information and pictures of rare skin cancers such as:

  • Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP)
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma
  • Microcystic adnexal carcinoma (MAC)
  • Sebaceous carcinoma
  • Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma
  • Extramammary Paget’s disease (EMPD)

For links to more comprehensive skin cancer information, visit our Skin Cancer 101 page.

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Signs of skin cancer on the website of the Orenburg hospital

The causes of skin cancer are not well understood. Several factors are known to increase the risk of developing skin cancer. These factors include:

  1. Prolonged exposure to the sun (sun exposure) is the most important risk factor for skin cancer. Typically, skin cancer develops in exposed areas of the body that are exposed to the ultraviolet rays of sunlight.
  2. White skin, or skin that contains little melanin, is more likely to develop cancer. Melanin is a dark pigment that is produced by special skin cells and serves to protect the skin from the sun’s rays. White skin, which has many moles, is also extremely prone to developing skin cancer.
  3. Prolonged skin exposure to x-rays (eg radiologists).
  4. Skin contact with substances that can cause cancer (carcinogens), which include arsenic, tar, etc.
  5. Smoking predisposes to skin cancer of the lower lip.
  6. Age over 50 is a risk factor for skin cancer, but the disease also occurs at a young age.
  7. Frequent use of the solarium significantly increases the risk of developing skin cancer.
  8. The presence of skin cancer in close relatives.
  9. Decreased immunity after severe illness, and also as a result of taking certain drugs that suppress the immune system (corticosteroids, anticancer drugs).

Symptoms of skin melanoma

The first sign of melanoma is a change in shape, color, size or an unpleasant sensation at the site of an existing mole. Melanoma also occurs as a new nevus. Pay attention to all skin changes and monitor the following:

  • Asymmetric . The mole does not have an axis of symmetry.
  • Irregular borders . The edges are torn, jagged or blurred. The pigment may spread to surrounding areas of the skin.
  • Uneven color . There are shades of black, brown. White, gray, red, pink, or blue areas are also visible.
  • Diameter . The mole increases in size. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than a pea (more than 6 mm).
  • Modification of . The mole has changed a lot in the last few weeks or months.

Change in size: increase in mole two or more times in 6 months; color change: darkening (to black), lightening, the appearance of enlightenment in the center and simultaneous darkening at the edges, heterogeneous pigmentation; asymmetry of form; fuzzy borders: in this case, the pigment merges smoothly with the surrounding skin, so that the borders become blurry; pain; ulceration of a mole; hair loss, if any, on the mole.

In more serious cases, the surface of the mole itself changes. The skin on the surface may crack or appear scratched. Becomes stiff, may bleed. Sometimes melanoma causes itching and pain.

When to see a doctor

Melanoma (skin cancer)



Light hair, fair skin and eyes


Frequent exposure to sunlight (professional, household, solarium hobby)


Frequent contact with chemical carcinogens, ionizing radiation


Presence of melanoma in blood relatives


Pigmented birthmark (nevus) over 1. 5 cm


Large number of nevi (more than 50)


Enlargement, induration, bleeding of birthmark


Rapid growth of nevus


Appearance of itching, tingling in the area of ​​a mole


If you scored 10 points in total, then you need to contact your local doctor to decide on further examination.

Signs of basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma

Skin changes are the most common sign. They may be a formed growth, an ulcer that does not heal for a long time, or any changes in the structure of the old nevus – the appearance of the carcinoma may be different. As a rule, the tumor does not cause pain.

When to See a Doctor

Skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas)

Frequent exposure to sunlight (professional, household, solarium hobby)


Age over 50


Painless lumps or persistent skin ulcers


Growths in some areas of the skin in the form of warts


Discoloration of a long-standing birthmark


Appearance of itching, tingling in the area of ​​a birthmark


Enlargement, thickening or bleeding of a birthmark


Enlarged lymph nodes


If you scored 10 points in total, then you need to contact your local doctor to decide on further examination.

Prevention of skin cancer

Everyone who is at risk should take preventive measures seriously and, if possible, eliminate provoking factors.

Prevention of any disease is to reduce, as far as possible, the exposure to the factors that provoke it and to increase the number of factors that reduce the risk. The same goes for skin cancer prevention.
Since the main cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet radiation, the main preventive measure is to limit exposure. Of course, it is impossible to completely protect yourself from sunlight, especially in the warm season, when you want to walk, sunbathe, swim. However, one should know the measure in everything, and sunbathing should be done without fanaticism. Doctors strongly recommend the use of sunscreen. It is customary for us to buy such creams for a trip to the sea, but this is wrong. Ideally, you should use sunscreen all year round. Of course, in the cold season we are talking only about face creams, because other parts of the body are covered with clothes. But in the summer you need to take care of lotions and creams that will protect all exposed skin. When choosing such a tool, you should carefully read the label. The SPF protection factor, or SPF in Russian, usually ranges from 15 to 50. For darker skin that is not prone to burns, you can take a lower protection factor, 15-25. For light, sensitive and baby skin, you need to take a product with a high STP factor. The label should also contain the inscription: UVA / UVB. This means that the product protects against alpha and beta rays. An important mark on such a tool is water resistance. It is important not only if you are going to swim. When you just walk around the city and sweat, the product is just as “washed off” from the skin. However, just because you bought a high protection waterproof product doesn’t mean you can apply it once and forget it all day long. Every 2-4 hours, depending on the protection factor, you need to apply the product again.
If possible, it is better to wear clothing that covers the body as much as possible from the sun’s rays. Of course, in the summer heat this is difficult, but try, for example, to wear light trousers instead of short shorts. Don’t forget the headwear. A wide-brimmed hat will protect not only the face, but also the ears and neck. Men can wear baseball caps with a visor. In recent years, special sun protection clothing has become more and more popular. It is made from fabrics treated with sunscreen.
Sunglasses are not only a tribute to fashion and style. Protecting your eyes and the skin around them from ultraviolet radiation is very important. Glasses should be not just stylish and fashionable, but really protect from the sun’s rays.
Avoid sun exposure during peak hours. This time is from 11 am to 4 pm. If you are near water or in nature, take care of the shade. An umbrella, a canopy, a tent are a must. Even if the weather is cloudy and the sun is not visible, you can still get burned, because clouds block only 30% of the ultraviolet. This suggests that sunscreen is essential even when the sun is hidden behind the clouds.
Intense tanning has been considered fashionable for many years in a row. Solariums are in demand all year round, many people, especially young girls, love to sunbathe until their skin turns dark. Not everyone understands that a solarium is harmful to the skin. One of the problems is premature aging, but even that is nothing compared to the risk of developing skin cancer, especially melanoma. American scientists have proposed to ban the solarium to young people under the age of 18.
Self-diagnosis and control over the condition of the skin is a prerequisite not only for people at risk, but for everyone in general. We all know

that you can take every precaution and still get sick. Therefore, periodically inspect open areas of the body – the neck, shoulders, arms, ears, head for the presence of any neoplasms on the skin, examine moles, if something is alarming, take the necessary tests. Skin cancer can be prevented if all the above measures are carried out systematically, persistently and persistently. Make sunscreen your constant companion, get your kids used to it, and give up tanning to a crisp – these are quite feasible and adequate conditions.

Self-exam skin

The following tips will help make self-examination faster and more convenient. The best time to visit is after taking a shower or bath. Use 2 mirrors: full-length and small, preferably with a long handle – their combination allows you to view all parts of the body. Also, to inspect the head, you will need a comb / comb or hair dryer (they can be used to expose the skin under the hairline). Inspection should be carried out in a well-lit room, you may also need a small flashlight.

Pay attention to:

  • new moles (dissimilar),
  • new red or dark lesions slightly raised above the skin,
  • changing the size, shape, color of a mole,
  • wounds that do not heal.

Regular check-ups are especially important for people with skin cancer risk factors. If you suspect a melanoma or other malignant tumor, you should immediately consult a doctor for a diagnosis.

Moles: should we be afraid?

Almost everyone has some number of moles, which usually appear in childhood and adolescence.

Almost everyone has some number of moles that usually appear during childhood and adolescence. The medical name is nevus (naevus maternus), a malformation of the skin, in which certain parts of it differ in color and / or a special warty appearance of the surface.

Many skin and subcutaneous neoplasms are quite common, and a careful examination by an oncologist is sufficient for a preliminary diagnosis. Most skin tumors are benign, but malignant tumors are also not uncommon, so early and accurate diagnosis is extremely important.

To provoke a mole to rebirth, of course, a push, an irritant is needed. The strongest irritant of all possible is excessive exposure to the sun.
Ultraviolet irradiation in high doses causes irreversible changes in skin cells, greatly increasing the risk of their degeneration. For each person, the critical amount of insolation is purely individual. It is not easy to determine this line, so it is better to just remember that prolonged exposure to the sun is harmful to the body. The skin is forced to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. Excessive tanning is inevitable burns that “hit” the skin’s immunity.

The second common cause of tumor development is trauma to the mole. Therefore, if you touched it with your fingernail, inadvertently damaged it with a washcloth, with some sharp object, especially if these injuries are permanent (for example, from underwear), be sure to see a doctor. Teach your children from childhood to take care of small marks on the skin.
Because birthmarks are very common and melanomas are rare, prophylactic mole removal is not warranted. Look at the mole at an angle, take a magnifying glass: a uniform color, a smooth edge, a transition of the “skin pattern” from an area with a normal color to a pigmented area, the presence of hair is a good sign.

However, if the mole suddenly increases in size (especially if there are uneven edges), darkens, becomes inflamed, becomes mottled, starts to bleed, ulcerates, itches or hurts, the “lacquer” surface of the mole, the special pattern of the edge – alarm!
Having found possible signs of degeneration of a mole, be sure to consult an oncologist.

It is important to remember that all removed moles are subject to mandatory morphological (histological) examination, because the final diagnosis for the morphologist. Only he, through a microscope, knows the danger in person.

Signs of malignant transformation of pigmented neoplasms according to the “BLOW” scheme:
  • Growth acceleration
  • Diameter over 6 mm
  • Asymmetry, irregular shape
  • Multicolour, change in color of one of the sections

More than a hundred oncological diseases are known to science, but melanoma among them is the recognized “insidious and evil queen”. The insidiousness and aggressiveness of this type of skin cancer is unparalleled. Once having arisen, the disease can imperceptibly develop in the superficial layers of the skin for 5–50 (!) years. Then, having chosen the weakest place on the skin – a mole or a pigment spot, single cells of a ripening tumor begin to grow in depth.

In order not to start the problem, you just need to be a little more attentive to yourself and not miss the first alarming symptoms. About how serious your concerns are, you need to consult with an oncologist. Self-treatment of age spots and moles is dangerous, but self-examination is welcome!
If you have even a slight suspicion, you should visit an oncologist. In such situations, correspondence consultations and consultations of cosmetologists are unacceptable!

What are moles?

Lentigo (marginal) is a flat, evenly pigmented brownish-brown to black patch resulting from an increase in the number of melanocytes at the border of the epidermis and dermis (skin layers). Compared to freckles, lentigines are darker and less common; moreover, their color does not increase and the number does not increase under the influence of solar radiation.
Epidermal-dermal nevi – usually flat, but sometimes slightly elevated above the level of the skin. Coloring from light brown to almost black, sizes – from 1 to 10 mm. Birthmarks on the palms, soles, and genital area are usually epidermal-dermal.
Complex nevi – more often have a dark color due to the accumulation of melanocytes and to some extent rise above the level of the skin.
Intradermal nevi elevated above skin level; their color varies from flesh to black, and the surface may be smooth, hairy, or warty.
Sutton’s nevi are pigmented birthmarks (usually complex and intradermal nevi) surrounded by a ring of depigmented (unstained) skin. Sutton’s nevi disappear spontaneously, and only in rare cases give rise to malignant melanomas.
Dysplastic nevi are pigmented spots of irregular shape and indistinct borders, slightly elevated above the level of the skin, their color varies from reddish-brown to dark brown on a pink background.