Check Your Moles Using the ABCDE Method

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. An estimated one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70. But when it’s detected early, it’s also one of the most curable forms of cancer.

There are several types of skin cancer, and melanoma is the most serious. The good news is that the five year survival rate for people with melanoma is about 99% when it’s detected early.

Oswald Mikell, MD, and our team at Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry specialize in diagnosing and treating skin cancer. In this blog, they explain what the ABCDE method is and how it can help you spot skin cancer.

Performing a skin self-exam

The best way to catch skin cancer in its early stages is by familiarizing yourself with your skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends performing a complete visual exam of your skin monthly. Take time to look at every area of your body, from skin that gets regular sun exposure to skin that never sees the light of day.

Skin cancers develop in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. At Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry, we recommend using the ABCDE method for checking moles for signs of melanoma.

A for asymmetrical

Noncancerous moles are usually round or oval, and they’re usually symmetrical in shape. Visualize a line down the center of the spot. Are the two halves similar or different? If they’re different, this could indicate the presence of skin cancer.

B for border

Look closely at the border of each mole and spot. Melanomas generally have irregular, scalloped, or faded borders. Is the border of your mole clearly defined, or is it irregular?

C for color

Noncancerous spots are typically one shade of brown. Multiple colors in one mole could indicate cancer. Look for different colors, including brown, tan, black, white, red, or even blue. Do you have any moles with varying colors?

D for diameter

Larger moles could be a sign of cancer. Melanomas are generally diagnosed when they’re larger than 6 millimeters across, but they can be identified earlier. Do you have any moles or spots that have a diameter larger than a pencil eraser?

E for evolving

Noncancerous moles generally remain unchanged over the years. Any spots that grow larger, change color, or appear different than other spots around them could indicate skin cancer. Do you have a mole that sticks out from the rest?

Getting a professional skin check

If you notice anything unusual in your monthly self-exam, schedule an appointment with Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry. Even if you don’t identify any suspicious moles in your self-exams, it’s a good idea to get annual professional skin checks.

Remember that nonmelanoma skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, can appear differently than melanoma, so don’t hesitate to get a professional skin check if you have any areas of concern.

Dr. Mikell and our team offer comprehensive skin cancer checks for people of all ages. We visually examine your skin, paying close attention to any suspicious areas you’ve indicated. If necessary, we may recommend a skin biopsy to confirm a diagnosis.

If you have any concerns about your skin, or if you want a skin exam, book an appointment over the phone with Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry today.

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