Do you know the ABCDEs of a skin cancer self-exam? It may help save your life.
One of your moles is changing. Or a new spot appears on your back.
Would you even notice? You might not — unless you keep an eye on your skin.
Why It Matters So Much
Of the 2 million or so skin cancers that occur every year, the vast majority are treatable varieties, mostly squamous or basal cell carcinomas. A third type — melanoma — isn’t as common. But it’s the most serious and deadly form.
Here’s the thing to remember about any skin cancer: The sooner you find it, the better. When caught early, it’s highly treatable — even if it’s melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Ready for a Selfie? Easy as A-B-C-D-E
To perform a skin self-exam, get in front of a mirror with good lighting. Examine your bare skin from head to toe. Use a hand-held mirror — or ask a partner — to help check hard-to-see places, including your backside and scalp.
Check all your skin spots, including moles — where melanoma often starts. You can use these ABCDE rules to help remember potential signs:
- Asymmetry: One half of the mole looks different from the other half.
- Border: The mole has jagged or other irregular edges.
- Color: The mole has varying shades of tan, brown and black — and sometimes white, red or blue.
- Diameter: The mole is wider than the eraser on a pencil (about 1/4 inch). Most melanomas are larger than this — but they may be smaller.
- Evolving: The mole’s size, shape or color has changed.