What to Look For and How

Spotting changes in current moles and/or developing lesions early on can help prevent the development and spread of skin cancer. It is important to know what to look for and how to look for it when dealing with early skin cancer detection.

Every month, inspect your entire body for any skin changes and routinely visit your dermatologist for a complete skin examination. Early detection of melanoma can be lifesaving because this cancer may be curable in its early stages. Any irregularity in an existing or newly developed pigmented skin lesion could be a sign of melanoma and should be examined immediately by your dermatologist. These irregularities may include asymmetry, an uneven border, color variations, diameter of more than 6mm or evolving changes of the lesion – all of these irregularities are covered in the ABCDEs of melanoma. If you notice any of the following irregularities in current skin lesions, see a dermatologist immediately.

The ABCDEs of Melanoma and How to Inspect Your Skin

  • Assymetry

    One half does not match the other half

  • Border Irregularity

    The edges are notched or ragged

  • Color

    Varied shades of tan, black and brown

  • Diameter

    Greater than 6 millimeters (about .23 inches)

  • Evolution

    New and/or significant change in size, shape, shade of color or symptoms of bleeding, itching and tenderness

  • Examine your body front and back in the mirror, then right and left sides, arms raised.

  • Bend elbows and look carefully at forearms and upper arms and palms.

  • Look at the backs of legs and feet, spaces between toes and soles.

  • Examine back of neck and scalp with a hand mirror. Part hair for a closer look at scalp.

  • Finally, check back and buttocks with a hand mirror.

Images and content provided by the American Academy of Dermatology

  • 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer
  • At least 90% of skin cancer is caused by over exposure to the sun
  • An estimated 9,700 people will die from melanoma this year
more statistics

Source: 2015 American Cancer Society


  • image description 
  • image description 
  • image description 
  • image description 
  • image description 
  • image description