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Melanoma is linked to certain types of moles, and may appear on skin that is not exposed to the sun. Atypical moles are an inherited trait in some families, and may turn into melanomas, or serve as a marker to identify an individual who has a higher risk for melanoma.
Melanoma begins in the melanocytes, the cells that produce skin color. When you are exposed to the sun, the melanin in your skin increases and causes your skin to darken. Melanoma is melanocytes that have been transformed into cancer cells and grow abnormally. These cancer cells can spread to vital internal organs and grow, making it more difficult to treat and much less likely to cure. Melanoma may appear without warning, which is why it is important to know the color, size and location of the moles on your body, and to recognize changes in your moles.
Recognizing the early warning signs for changing moles: ABCD’s
A Asymmetry: One half does not match the other half.
B Border: The border or edges of the mole are ragged, blurred or irregular.
C Color: The color of the mole is not the same throughout.
D Diameter: While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm, the size of a pencil eraser, melanoma can be smaller.
Other warning signs for changing moles:
- A change in size, shape or color of a spot or mole
- A sore that does not heal
- A new growth
- Redness, itchiness, scaliness, bleeding or appearance of a bump or nodule