Malignant melanoma usually appears as a deep black mole on a region of the skin that is exposed to the sun. Sometimes, malignant melanoma develops in an area of the skin without sun exposure.
Symptoms of malignant melanoma include characteristic changes to moles, or nevi, on the skin.
Characteristics of a malignant melanoma include:
- New or changing skin lesion:
- Darkening of skin
- Skin lesion with an irregular border
- Skin lesion that is asymmetric where one side of the lesion does not match the other side.
- Mixed coloration rather than one consistent color such as brown, tan, or black
- Irregular shape
- Irregular borders: jagged or notched edges
- Skin lesion with a rapid change in size or shape
- Size larger than 6 mm (1/4 inch)
Continue to Melanoma Evaluation
- Brown TJ, Nelson BR. Malignant melanoma: a clinical review. Cutis. 1999 May;63(5):275-8, 281-4. 
- Ruiz-Maldonado R, Orozco-Covarrubias ML. Malignant melanoma in children. A review. Arch Dermatol. 1997 Mar;133(3):363-71. 
- Schuchter LM. Review of the 2001 AJCC staging system for cutaneous malignant melanoma. Curr Oncol Rep. 2001 Jul;3(4):332-7.