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Skin Cancer

ABCDE’s of Melanoma

What are some of the features of a melanoma?

Melanoma can be hard to spot. Many people who have melanoma do not know they have melanoma because most often there are no symptoms. For this reason, doing self-skin exams can help spot melanoma early. One recommendation is to look for your mole that is an “ugly duckling”. The “ugly duckling” sign means that one mole is obviously different from your others. If you have an “ugly duckling” mole, it is important to have a board-certified dermatologist examine it.

Additionally, you can use the acronym “ABCDE” to evaluate your moles. It is important to see a board-certified dermatologist immediately if your mole(s) has any of the following features:

  • Asymmetry (if a mole is cut in half, one half is not identical to the other)
  • Border irregularities (the border does not appear smooth)
  • Color variegation (presence of multiple shades of red, blue, black, gray, white or brown)
  • Diameter > 5 mm
  • Evolution: a lesion that is changing in size, shape, or color, or a new lesion

Some melanomas unfortunately do not play by these rules and for this reason do not look like an “ugly duckling” or violate the ABCDE criteria. For this reason, it is important to see a board-certified dermatologist in person to have your moles examined and to perform self-skin exams periodically.

You can use this body mole map from the American Academy of Dermatology to help keep track of the spots on your skin and make note of changes from year-to-year. If you notice a mole that is different from others, or that changes, itches or bleeds, contact Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group immediately to make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist!


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