Spotting it early


Melanoma spotted early can be successfully treated by surgery and if a melanoma is discovered when it is less than 1mm thick, the outcome is excellent.

The first sign is often a change in the size, shape or colour of an existing mole, or the appearance of a new mole.

Checking yourself and your loved ones

Start by checking your entire body, including skin not normally exposed to the sun. You could ask for help from someone else to check difficult-to-see areas, such as your back, neck and scalp.

We recommend that you follow the ‘Ugly Duckling’ rule. The idea behind the Ugly Duckling rule is that you compare your moles with each other. If any mole stands out or looks different from that of nearby moles, it is the ugly duckling, and we advise you contact a doctor to get an expert opinion.

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Know the skin you are in

Melanomas can often be detected using the ABCDE system, although not all melanoma lesions show these characteristics. 



Two halves of the mole are different from one another



The edges of the mole are poorly defined. It is ragged, notched, blurred or an irregular shape



The colour is uneven with shades of black, brown and tan. Melanomas may also be white, grey, red, pink or blue



from other lesions (ugly duckling) there is a change, particularly an increase, in size. Melanomas are usually bigger than the end of a pencil (6mm)



Any change in growth? New or elevated?

Here's a very useful video that explains the ABCDE system 'What is the best way to identify something of concern on your skin?' by Dr Mark Izzard, from the Skin Institute

What else to look for

  • new spot or an existing spot, freckle or mole that has changed in colour, shape or size
  • spots that bleed or are itchy
  • spots that become raised quickly and catch on clothing
  • the colouring of the problem spot may be multi-coloured, white or the same colour as your skin
  • melanoma spots can develop over various time periods
  • a type of melanoma called ‘nodular melanoma, which grows rapidly and is found on the head and neck and in older people, particularly men. They are raised, firm and often uniform in colour.

When in doubt head straight to your doctor or a specialist.

You can find your nearest professional skin check provider on our Skin Check Providers page.