Symptoms and Signs of Melanoma

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Melanoma

Melanoma is primarily a type of skin cancer that affects melanocytes, the cells that produce the pigment melanin. Melanocytes can also be found in the mucous membranes, eyes, adrenal glands, and the brain. Melanoma frequently spreads to distant sites (metastasize) and it is the single most common cause of death from any skin disease.

Symptoms of melanoma include changes in pigmented skin lesions that can be remembered by the ABCDE’s: Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color multiplicity, Diameter greater than ΒΌ inch, and Evolution (change) in the size and/or shape. Other symptoms of melanoma may include local bleeding, itching, or burning sensation. When melanoma spreads (metastasizes) to the brain it may cause headaches and seizures. Melanoma that has spread to the lungs can cause shortness of breath and feeling unwell (malaise). Melanoma that spreads to the bones causes bone pain and fractures.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.