All the symptoms of melanoma can easily be dismissed as something else. Do that and you could find yourself facing a tough battle with cancer.

The challenge is, who amongst us hasn’t had an itch before? So we don’t need to panic at the first itch that falls on a mole.

Spotting melanoma comes down to identifying symptoms that need further investigation by a doctor. So let’s go through the most common signs and symptoms.

In the United Kingdom there is an excellent body called National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), who are responsible for figuring out the best way to treat illness. They have developed a set of guidelines for doctors which I’ll summarise below.

NICE suggests that GPs should score people based on features they search for in the mole.

The assessment is split into major and minor features. The mole scores 2 points for every major feature it has and one point for each minor feature it has. If a patient score 3 points or more in the assessment, they need to be sent to a specialist.

The major features are all focused on change, which is the most sensitive indicator of melanoma. Specifically a mole will score 2 points for each of these changes:

  • changes in size.
  • changes in colour, such as getting darker or becoming patchy
  • changes in shape

This is what Skin Analytics service is designed to do; spot these changes. However, whether you are using our service or not, you should be keeping an eye out for changing moles on your and your family’s skin.

A mole will also score an additional point for any of these signs:

  • 7mm or more across in any direction
  • Inflammation
  • Oozing or bleeding
  • Change in sensation, such as itching or pain

Remember, a score of 3 is an automatic referral. However, medicine is complicated so if the doctor has strong concerns about any single feature in either the major or minor symptoms, they will refer you to a specialist.

Cancer Research UK also provides links to pictures of some abnormal moles to give you some idea of what you should be looking out for. There is also more information about the symptoms of melanoma in the about melanoma section of their website.

If you think you have any of these symptoms, go see your doctor immediately. If you don’t but you want to know if you ever do, consider having your moles mapped, either with our service or by your local dermatologist.