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Checking your skin can help you spot skin cancer early. Your doctor can tell you how often to do a check.
The ABCDEs of melanoma
Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. These ABCDEs can help you tell if you should see a doctor about a mole or a spot. Even one of these signs is a reason to see a doctor immediately.
Asymmetry: Half the mole or spot is unlike the other half.
Border: The mole or spot has an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.
Color: The color changes from one area of the mole or spot to another. It may have shades of tan, brown or black, or it could be white, red or blue.
Diameter: The mole or spot is larger than a pencil eraser. Melanomas are usually larger than 6 millimeters (about ¼ inch) when diagnosed. They can be smaller though.
Evolving: The mole or spot looks different from others on your body or is changing in size, shape or color.
What's your risk? There are a number of factors that can influence how likely you are to develop skin cancer.
Source: American Academy of Dermatology
- American Academy of Dermatology. “Melanoma.” https://www.aad.org/media/stats-melanoma.
- American Academy of Dermatology. “Skin cancer: Body mole map.” https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/find/at-risk/mole-map.
The information found in the Health Library is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice nor does it represent the views or position of WHMC. Readers should always consult with their healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment, including for specific medical needs.