The ABCDEs of Spotting Melanoma

The ABCDEs to identify melanomas

Elisabetta Liotta, MDdid the medical review of this document

1 in 40 women will be affected by melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can develop anywhere on the body and in people of any skin color.

For Caucasians, melanoma is most common on the face, arms, legs and back.

For black people, melanoma is most common on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and nail beds.

What does melanoma look like?

It can be difficult to see the signs of skin cancer if you don’t know what to look for. Want to know a simple trick that will help you detect melanoma? Remember the ABCDE sequence of the alphabet.

A symmetry

One side of the mole is different from the other

b order

The mole has an irregular border (outline) that is not well defined

c odor

The colors (or shades of color) vary from one area of ​​the mole to another

d dark meter

The mole is ¼ inch or larger (about the size of a pencil eraser) or darker than the other moles

AND Revolution

The mole changes shape, size, or color

There’s a map for that!

The American Academy of Dermatology has a mole body map you can download to help you take notes during your self-exams.

beware of the ugly duckling

The “ugly duckling” is a different-looking mole and is another warning sign of melanoma.

Exams save lives!

Want to know about another tool you can use to detect skin cancer? Yearly exams, which are especially important if you’re at increased risk for skin cancer.

Some risk factors:

  • Blond hair or fair skin
  • Set off
  • blue or clear eyes
  • More than 50 piers
  • History of frequent or intense sun exposure
  • One or more sunburns
  • Family history of melanoma

Melanoma can be treated successfully if detected early. Knowing the warning signs of melanoma and having regular skin exams can help you detect this skin cancer early, before it spreads.

  • The average 5-year survival rate for early-detected melanomas is about 99%.
  • Once the melanomas have spread to the lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate drops to 62%
  • If melanomas spread to other parts of the body, such as organs, the rate drops to 18%

treatment of melanoma

How melanoma is treated depends on how deep it is and whether it has spread.

  • Most melanomas are removed with minor surgeries that remove the cancer and some of the surrounding normal skin.
  • More advanced melanomas may require invasive surgery or other treatments, such as radiation therapy.

If in doubt, take the test!

If you have a mole that appears to be a problem, but you’re not sure, talk to a doctor.

This resource has been prepared with support from Merck.