Mayo Clinic Health Library

Slide show: Melanoma pictures to help identify skin cancer

Updated: 01-23-2013

Melanoma pictures for self-examination

Melanoma pictures for self-examination

Melanoma — a serious form of skin cancer — is often curable if you find it early. These melanoma pictures can help you determine what to look for.

The American Academy of Dermatology advises that you watch skin spots for these features:

  • Asymmetry
  • Border irregularity
  • Color changes
  • Diameter greater than 1/4 inch (about 6 millimeters)
  • Evolving

Follow this ABCDE guide to determine if an unusual mole or suspicious spot on your skin may be melanoma.

A: Asymmetry

Photo of melanoma with asymmetrical shape

Asymmetrical skin growths, in which one part is different from the other, may indicate melanoma. Here, the left side of the mole is dark and slightly raised, whereas the right side is lighter in color and flat.

B: Border irregularity

Photo of melanoma with irregular border

Melanomas may have borders that are vaguely defined. Growths with irregular, notched or scalloped borders need to be examined by a doctor.

C: Color changes

Photo of melanoma showing changes in color

Multiple colors or uneven distribution of color may indicate cancer.

D: Diameter

Photo of melanoma

A skin growth's large size may be an indication of cancer. Have your doctor check out any growth larger than the diameter of a pencil eraser — about 1/4 inch (6 millimeters).

E: Evolving

Photo of mole that may become melanoma

The mole shown here does not fit into any of the other criteria — size, shape, color or pattern. But watch moles like this one closely for changes, due to the small amount of color irregularity.

Look for changes over time, such as a mole that grows in size or that changes color or shape. Moles may also evolve to develop new signs and symptoms, such as new itchiness or bleeding.

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