Melanoma symptoms include moles or skin spots that are asymmetrical (A), have an irregular border (B) or color (C), a diameter (D) larger than a pencil eraser, or evolve (E) in form, shape or color. These symptoms can be remembered as the ABCDE system, according to WebMD.
In an existing mole, melanoma symptoms can take a slightly different form. Signs of melanoma in the mole could include changes in elevation, surface, surrounding skin, sensation or consistency, according to WebMD. For example, a flat mole might become raised, begin to bleed or become painful. The skin around it might swell or change color.
Patients noticing any of the above symptoms should meet with a doctor for further evaluation, according to WebMD. A patient who notices discoloration under a toenail or darkening of the skin that is not related to injury or tanning should also contact a doctor as these are other symptoms of melanoma.
Melanoma is most commonly caused by exposure to UV radiation via sunlight. Freckled, fair-skinned people with blue or green eyes and blond or red hair are at increased risk of developing melanoma, especially if their skin burns instead of tanning. People with many moles or at least one large mole are also at increased risk, as are people with a family history of the disease, according to WebMD.