Is that spot a melanoma?

Skin cancer generally stands out as being quite different to surrounding skin. If a spot strikes you as being a bit odd, take it seriously

Skin cancer mostly appears as a new and unusual looking spot. It may also appear as an existing spot that has changed in colour, size or shape.

Below are some different types of skin cancers (with images kindly provided by the Skin & Cancer Foundation Victoria).



A melanoma can grow very quickly. It can become life-threatening in as little as six weeks and, if untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body. It can appear on skin not normally exposed to the sun. It is usually flat with an uneven smudgy outline.

It may be blotchy and more than one colour – brown, black, blue, red or grey. However, some melanomas are pink or skin coloured.

Use ABCDEFG to look for melanoma where:

  • A= asymmetry, look for spots that are asymmetrical not round
  • B= border, look for spots with uneven borders
  • C= colour, look for spots with an unusual or uneven colour
  • D= diameter, look for spots that are larger than 7 mm
  • E=elevated
  • F=firm
  • G=growing

Nodular Melanoma

A highly dangerous form of melanoma that looks different from common melanomas – they are raised from the start and even in colour (often red or pink and some are brown or black). This type of melanoma grows quickly and can be life threatening if not detected and removed quickly.


Squamous cell carcinoma

This type of skin cancer is not as dangerous as melanoma but may spread to other parts of the body if not treated and can be fatal. It grows over some months and appears on skin most often exposed to the sun. It can be a thickened, red, scaly spot that may bleed easily, crust or ulcerate.


Basal cell carcinoma

This is the most common but least dangerous form of skin cancer. It grows slowly, usually on the head, neck and upper torso. It may appear as a lump or dry, scaly area. It maybe red, pale or pearly in colour. As it grows, it may ulcerate or appear like a sore that fails to completely heal or one that does heal but then breaks down again.

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