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Early detection of melanoma is the key to prognosis of melanoma. The earlier it can be detected the more chances of easy treatment. However, there are such circumstances where it can be misdiagnosed. So there are no any specific characteristics that can confirm the diagnosis of melanoma. The well-known rule of ABCDE of melanoma detection continues to be a useful tool for both doctors and the public. In this article we’ll brief the most common eight signs of malignant melanoma. Do remember that self-diagnosis may sometimes put you in trouble, so always seek expert advice if you suspect any abnormal moles in your skin.

Eight Signs of Malignant Melanoma

A Asymmetry in shape, which means that one half is not identical to other half. Although not included in ABCDE rule, age can also be another factor. The development of a new pigmented lesion with characteristics of either any of ABCD rule, in an individual above 40-50 years can also be highly suspected for melanoma.

B Border is irregular, notched, scalloped, ragged, or poorly defined as opposed to smooth and straight edges.

C Color is not uniform, varying shades from one area to another, different colors ranging from brown, black, gray, red and white.

D Diameter is usually large, greater than 6mm, approximately the tip of pencil eraser. Some suggest D for difference that denotes difference from other lesion. Experts think that a pigmented mole should globally share a common appearance or family resemblance. Even in an individual with multiple atypical moles, the mole should be morphologically similar. So, the mole that is different from other pigmented moles on a particular individual should always be suspected for melanoma.

E Evolution of moles, if the mole has gone through recent changes in size, shape and color. Some use E for enlargement, which signify an increase in size of lesion. Another is Elevation which is always present and is irregular with surface distortion.

malignant melanoma
malignant melanoma picture

Lesion having above characteristic may potentially be harmful melanoma. In addition to increase in size and change in colors that are two early signs of melanoma, persistent itching is also an earlier symptom. Inflammation, tenderness, ulcer and bleeding denote that the lesion has advanced. If you suspect any of the above changes seek medical advice immediately.

Nevoid melanoma is a rare melanoma that resembles harmless moles and doesn’t follow the ABCDE rule. Early nevoid melanoma usually has smooth borders, small (less than 6mm) and even color lesion, which can be mistaken for harmless lesion according to ABCD rule.

Lets summarize the 8 signs of melanoma

  • Asymmetry in shape
  • Border is irregular
  • Color is not uniform
  • Diameter is usually large
  • Difference from other lesions
  • Evolution of moles
  • Enlargement of mole
  • Elevation above the surface


  • Persistent itching
  • Inflammation
  • Tenderness
  • Ulcer
  • Bleeding


  1. Hanna Bertrand
    May 31, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Great post, thanks for sharing!
    You are totally right that chances of survival and recovery greatly depend on the stage in which cancer is in. In the early stages, it is very treatable. This changes drastically as it approaches its final stages. It is for such reasons that a lot of emphases is put on learning about its causes and, most importantly, the early signs.
    There few treatments for Malignant melanoma: surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, psychotherapy.

  2. Luke Smith
    December 7, 2022 at 1:46 am

    It’s nice that you talked about how the earlier melanoma could be detected the more chances of easy treatment. I was talking with my friend while working last night and he told me about the melanoma diagnosis of his sister. It sounded pretty serious, but thankfully, it seems there are melanoma cancer treatments now, so it looks like they are going to try it out.

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