The ABCDEs of moles and melanomas

March 9, 2010

Concept and photographs:The Skin Cancer Foundation,


of moles and melanomas

Concept and photographs:
The Skin Cancer Foundation,

People at high risk of developing melanoma are those who have:

• A family history of melanoma, or who have had a melanoma in the past

• Unusual moles on the skin, or changing moles

• Fair skin, light hair and eye color, and who sunburn easily or tan with difficulty

• A record of painful or blistering sunburns as children or in their teenage years

• Indoor occupations and outdoor recreational habits

When you inspect moles, pay special attention to their sizes, shapes, edges, and color. A handy way to remember these features is to think of the A, B, C, D, and E of skin cancer-asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and


Asymmetry: If you draw a line through an asymmetrical mole, the two halves will not match.

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

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.

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.

Evolving: Any change in a mole - in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching, or crusting - points to suspicion and possible danger.