Melanoma is a highly dangerous form of skin cancer, which is always malignant. When found at an early stage, melanoma has one of the highest cure rates of all cancers, at more than 90 percent.
If left untreated, melanoma starts to invade beyond the skin. When it reaches the blood stream or the lymphatic system, it has a chance to spread to other parts of the body and often causes death.
Melanoma commonly appears on the back and legs, but it can appear anywhere. These images show some of the identifying characteristics of melanoma. Check your moles and pigmented spots for these signs, which may indicate melanoma. If you notice these features, or if you observe changes in a specific spot, see a dermatologist.
Asymmetry means the shape is not the same on both sides.
The border of a visible edge of a malignant melanoma is irregular, ragged, and indistinct.
The colour of a malignant melanoma may range from brown to black, and have areas of red, grey, or white.
An increase in diameter or width is common in melanoma, often measuring more than 6mm in diameter.
For more information visit the website of the Canadian Dermatology Association at www.dermatology.ca or BC Cancer's Melanoma pages.
Photographs © Copyright the Canadian Dermatology Association.