What signs on my skin should I be aware of?

When you keep an eye on your skin you should pay attention to the following signs.

New moles or spots
Until you are 25 years old, it is normal to develop new moles. After that age it becomes less common. Be extra attentive to new moles if you are over 25.

Any mole or spot that increases in size or become raised from the skin.

Even though moles can naturally grow in size over time, a typical sign to watch for is quick growth. If you discover something is increasing in size, get it checked.

Anything that itches, bleeds or looks different than your other moles or spots should be checked.

Tell your doctor if your skin darkens under the soles of your feet, palms of your hands, or you develop dark lines along a nail.

If you find an existing mole on your skin and are unsure if it has changed, it can be helpful to think about the ABCDs.

Asymmetry: Does one side of the mole look different from the other?
Border: Be on the lookout for borders that are poorly defined, irregular, or scalloped.
Color: Do the colors vary from one area to another? Moles with melanoma can sometimes be red, white or blue. They are often shades of tan and brown or black.
Diameter: Melanomas are typically bigger than a pencil eraser (about 6 millimeters) when diagnosed, but they can start smaller.

It is important to remember that even if you discover one of the signs above, the cause is unlikely to be melanoma. Still, if you are unsure, check with your doctor as soon as possible.