ABCDEs of Melanoma

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Always get a pigmented lesion checked if there is any change at all.  There are typical things that you should look for in evaluating moles or lesions on the skin during self checks.  These are the ABCDEs.

A:  Asymmetry – One side is not like the other.  If you draw a line through the mole, the sides will not match.

B:  Border – The borders of an early melanoma may be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.

C:  Color – 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, blue or some other color

D:  Diameter – Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the size of the eraser on your pencil (1/4 inch or 6 mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.

E:  Evolution – Any change — in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting — points to danger.


Melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers in the U.S. and worldwide. Consider:

  • One in 50 Americans has a lifetime risk of developing melanoma
  • People under 30 are developing melanoma at an alarming rate – the incidence soaring by 50% in young women since 1980
  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults aged 25-29 & the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults aged 15-29
  • In 2009, nearly 63,000 people were diagnosed with melanoma in the U.S., resulting in about 8,650 deaths
  • The American Cancer Society projects that nearly 77,000 will be diagnosed and 9,500 will diefrom melanoma this year
  • Every eight minutes, someone in the U.S. will be diagnosed with melanoma
  • Every hour of every day, someone will die from the disease