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What are the symptoms of malignant melanoma?

Published: 22nd January 2024
Healthcare professional examining patient's mole with a dermatoscope.

Malignant melanoma is a form of skin cancer – what symptoms should primary care professionals be looking out for?

Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 4% of all new cancer cases and more cancer deaths than all other skin cancers combined, says NICE. On average, there are approximately 16,700 cases diagnosed each year (2016-2018). 

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can appear anywhere on the body. The main cause is ultraviolet light, which arises from the sun or the use of tanning machines. 

The common symptoms can include change in colour of a skin lesion, irregular border of a mole, black or brown spots within the skin lesion, or even bleeding. 

ABCDE model

The ABCDE model can be used to distinguish normal moles from early features of melanoma. 

Asymmetry: Two halves of a melanoma differ in their shape 

Border: Uneven or notched edges.

Colour: A mix of two or more colours 

Diameter: Larger than 6mm in diameter

Evolving: Changes in size, shape, colour over time.

Dr Rachel Abbott, Consultant Dermatologist, discusses melanomas within GatewayC’s Skin Cancer course. In a pre-filmed interview on the topic, she said:

‘Melanomas arise from the pigment cells in the skin and often [there]

will be a history of a changing mole’.

‘There can be some changes within moles as we get older that are normal, so you get maturing moles, they can become more raised and lose their colour but if you are unsure at all it is always best to get them checked out’. 



Learn more in GatewayC’s Skin Cancer – Early Diagnosis course.

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