Melanoma is a form of skin cancer. It is a reasonably common type of cancer that has a range of potential causes and risk factors. The two main factors are having fair complexion and hair, and having high levels of UV light exposure, either through the sun or through sunbeds. If caught early, melanoma is a treatable form of cancer, with an excellent prognosis. To catch it early, however, you have to be aware of the different melanoma signs and symptoms.

The earlier you can identify that you may have this kind of cancer, the easier it is for it to be treated. This is why, if you notice any skin changes and particularly to your moles, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Moles are a telltale sign for melanoma, so you basically need to get to know your own body.

Melanoma Signs and Symptoms:

If your skin changes, or you develop a new mole, you need to speak to your physician. If you notice any of the following, you should also seek medical help:

– A mole that gets bigger

– A mole that changes shape, particularly if the edges become irregular

– A mole that changes color, particularly one that develops multiple shades, becomes patchy, or gets darker

– A mole that is painful or itchy

– A mole that becomes crusty or bleeds

– A mole that looks inflamed

If you notice a mole that has at least three shades of black or brown, it is quite likely that it is a melanoma. Dark patches underneath nails that aren't related to injury should also be checked out.

It is recommended that people research the common melanoma signs and symptoms, and particularly familiarize themselves what moles are and are not supposed to look like. That said, even those images may not be reflective of your own situation. Again, knowing your own body is therefore vital.

Where Can You Get a Melanoma?

Men usually get melanomas on their back. Women, by contrast, get it on their legs. If you notice that a lymph node near an abnormal mole is swollen, then you must make an emergency appointment with a physician.

In very rare cases, a melanoma can start in the eye. The iris, which is the colored part in the eye, can develop sudden dark spots. The melanoma can also be within the eye, which means there are no visible signs and symptoms, although some people do notice some changes with their eyesight. These melanomas are usually diagnosed during routine optician checks.

There are a number of common risk factors for melanomas, including:

– Extensive UV ray exposure

– Being of fair skin and with fair hair

– Having more than 100 moles

– Having a birthmark larger than 20 cm.

– Having a family history of melanoma

– Having had cancer in the past

None of these factors mean that you will definitely get melanoma. Rather, it tells you that you will need to keep a closer eye on yourself. Once again, it is about knowing your own body so that you can spot any changes.