Recognize the ABCDEs of Melanoma


Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, and the ability of a skin professional to recognize skin cancer on a client could potentially save their life.

“Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and one person dies of melanoma every hour,” said Ellen S. Marmur, M.D., FAAD, board-certified dermatologist, associate clinical professor of dermatology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York.

ABCDEs of Melanoma

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer, and to recognize the type of skin cancer, dermatologists recommend looking for the following ABCDEs.


  • Asymmetry. Both halves of a mole should match.
  • Border irregularity. Edges are ragged, notched or blurred.
  • Color. If skin color varies from one area to another
  • Diameter. Melanomas are usually greater than 6mm, but can be smaller when diagnosed.
  • Evolving: Keep an eye out for unusual looking moles or skin lesions, especially when changing in size, shape or color.


Recommend Thorough Checks

While skin professionals have access to a large area of skin, recommend that the client checks all other areas at home, or has a spouse or family member do so.

“Take a few minutes – even if it’s right after you shower or while you’re putting on your pajamas in the evening – to check your skin regularly for the signs of skin cancer,” said Doris Day, M.D., FAAD, board-certified dermatologist, clinical associate professor of dermatology, NYU School of Medicine/Langone Medical Center, New York. “It could save your life.”


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