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Early Detection

  • Skin cancer is the most common cancer and the most treatable when found early. 

  • You know your skin better than anyone else. You are the front line for recognizing the warning signs.

How To Spot Melanoma – “The ABCDEs” & “The Ugly Duckling”

   - ABCDEs

A stands for Asymmetry. Melanomas grow irregularly. Most normal moles are symmetrical, meaning if you drew a line through the middle, both halves would look the same

B stands for Border. Normal moles have smooth, even borders. Melanoma often has irregular borders that are faded, jagged, or blurry as seen in this image.

C stands for Color. A mole that has different colors can raise suspicion. Varying shades of tan, brown, or black, or even grey, blue, white, or pink are warning signs. 

D stands for Diameter. The general rule of thumb is that a mole greater than 6 mm is worth discussing with a health professional.

E stands for Evolving. Any mole that changes color, shape, size, or texture is concerning. 

  - The Ugly Duckling

  • An “Ugly Duckling” is any mole that stands out from others. If you have 15 moles that look like one another, with one or a few which stand out from the rest, make a note of them. We live in the iPhone era, so take a picture! Or make a note in your Body Mole Map


Basal Cell Carcinoma

BCC is the most common skin cancer. Age, skin type, and sun exposure are all risk factors. BCC rarely spreads to other areas of the body but, left untreated, can continue to grow. 

What are the identifying features of a BCC?

  • Any new spot that does not heal

  • Typically, a raised, pink bump or patch

  • It may seem clear or have shiny features 

  • Having visible blood vessels near the surface

  • Elevated borders

  • Most commonly found in sun-exposed areas and the face, lips, nose, and around the eyes




Squamous Cell Carcinoma

SCC is the second most common skin cancer, with many overlapping risk factors to basal cell carcinoma. They typically arise in sun-exposed skin or areas with a history of skin injury i.e., burns, scars, and ulcers. SCC has a slightly higher risk of spreading throughout the body, so early recognition with prompt treatment is important. 

What are the identifying features of SCC?

  • Any new spot that does not heal

  • Typically, a rough or crusted, pink patch that may bleed when scratched

  • It may appear as an ulcer or sore with a red base

  • Some types of SCC grow very quickly and be the size of a grape in as little as a few months. 

  • Most commonly found in sun-exposed areas and the face, ears, arms, legs, and hands

Make a monthly self-skin exam a part of your routine

We recommend performing monthly self-skin exams at home. It only takes a few minutes. To do this:

  • Stand in front of a full-length mirror and examine as much skin as possible

  • For extra help, use a hand mirror or a loved one

  • If you notice multiple suspicious spots, we recommend using Body Mole Map. Bring this form to your dermatologist for a full-body skin exam to ensure everything is normal.


Updated: 11/16/2022



  1. All images credit to

  2. “Infographic: Skin Cancer Body Mole Map.” American Academy of Dermatology, 

  3. “What to Look for: Abcdes of Melanoma.” American Academy of Dermatology, 

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