The ABCs of Skin Cancer


Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that forms from the melanocytes, the cells that give skin its color. While melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer (accounting for about 3 to 4 percent of all skin cancers), it’s the most deadly, accounting for 75% of deaths.

The ABCs of Skin Cancer

Early detection is extremely important, as prognosis is drastically better for those whose cancer hasn’t yet spread to the lymph nodes. Often, skin cancer often develops in unusual looking moles or skin lesions. A biopsy is the only way to determine whether the spot is benign or malignant. Use the ABCDE System which was developed by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City to help you determine which moles or lesions should be seen by a dermatologist:

A stands for asymmetry. If you draw an imaginary line through the center of a mole, the two halves will look different in shape, color or both.

B is for border. Look for edges that are uneven, scalloped or blurry.

C is for color. A normal mole is one color throughout. Melanomas may contain different colors or different shades of a color.

D stands for diameter. Most melanomas are ¼ inch (roughly the size of a pencil eraser) or larger.

E stands for evolving. This means that a mole or lesion is changing and could indicate malignant progression.

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