A, B, C, D, E’S of Skin Cancer U need to know

A is for Asymmetrical

The benign mole below  is not asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle, the two sides will match, meaning it issymmetrical. If you draw a line through the malignant mole, the two halves will not match, meaning it is asymmetrical, a warning sign for melanoma.

Asmmetrical Image 2


B is for Border

A benign mole has smooth, even, borders unlike melanoma. The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.

B is for Border





C is for Color

Most benign moles are all one color— often a single shade of brown. Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, white or blue (black).

C is for color



D is for Diameter

Benign moles usually have a smaller diameter than malignant ones. Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the eraser on your pencil tip (¼ inch or 6mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.

D is for diameter



E is for Evolving

Common, benign moles look the same over time. Be on the alert when a mole starts to evolve or change in any way. When a mole is evolving, see a doctor. Any change — in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting — points to danger.

E is for evolving





The last letter is not sequential…but neither is the skin cancer:

 U is for Unusual

u is for unusual






Skin cancers are evolving.  Sometimes the cancers won’t be as obvious as they are here.  Amelanotic melanomas don’t fit the classic ABCD criteria.  They appear as a small waxy looking mole or even a pearlized whitehead that bleeds.  Clinically, these are among the toughest to diagnose, but also of the utmost importance.  Because they are often so unimpressive to look at, they are presumed to be of little consequence, whereas in fact, they are every bit as dangerous (if not more so) than pigmented melanomas.

Be safe! See your dermatologist anytime you find and unusual mole on your skin. Better yet, get an annual skin and mole check.

Photos and definition ABCE courtesy of SkinCancer.org


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