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Skin Cancer: Symptoms and Detection

The American Academy of Dermatology and the American Cancer Society recommend that individuals perform monthly self-examinations.(1)  It is important to keep the ABCDE's (Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, Evolution) of melanoma in mind.:

  • Asymmetry: melanomas tend to be asymmetrical while benign lesions are more rounded and symmetric.
  • Borders: Benign lesions are usually regular and flush with the skin while melanomas may have irregular and/or raised borders.
  • Color: Melanomas may be tan, black or brown and often include regions of red, white and blue.
  • Diameter: In general, melanomas are larger than 6 mm in diameter.
  • Evolution: Changes in physical appearance of melanocytic growths are often observed over time and skin marking should be monitored for changes. Because the changes may be gradual, it is a good idea to photograph any suspicious marks, including a ruler or coin for size comparison. This allows for direct comparison of images taken at different times.

Although the ABCDE guidelines assist with a valuable screening tool, it is important to see a physician regularly and especially if one finds a suspicious or irregular skin marking/growth or witnesses a change in an existing skin marking/growth.(1)

 

Asymmetry:
asymmetrical

Border:
irregular border

Color:
abnormal color

Diameter:
diameter


Images used courtesy of the Skin Cancer Foundation

Click here for information about melanoma treatments and services at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

An imaging system, MelaFind®, developed by Mela Sciences has been approved by the FDA to aid in the detection of melanoma.(2)  Learn more about MelaFind®.

Page 6 of 15 | <Previous : Next>
Last Modified: 07/21/2014 Print Email Page
References for this page:
  1. Rager EL, Bridgeford EP, Ollila DW. "Cutaneous melanoma: update on prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment." American Family Physician. 2005 Jul 15;72(2):269-76. [PUBMED]
  2. FDA New Device Approvals and Clearances. MelaFind® - P090012 [http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/DeviceApprovalsandClearances/Recently-ApprovedDevices/ucm280864.htm]
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