The ABCDE's of Melanoma Skin Cancer

Dr. Jan Peter Dank, MD, Dermatologist, discusses the ABCDE's of melanoma.

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Dr. Jan Peter Dank, MD, Dermatologist, discusses the ABCDE's of melanoma.
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Featuring Dr. Jan Peter Dank, MD, Dermatologist

Duration: 1 minute, 52 seconds                                

Melanoma skin cancers tend to be pigmented, so they’re black or brown. 

And oftentimes, people think they look like a mole. And sometimes they do actually arise from a preexisting mole. So to recognize a melanoma, you’ll often think it’s a mole that’s changing.

We have some principles that allow people to look at a skin lesion and, if it’s pigmented, recognize whether it might be showing signs of melanoma

To make them easy to remember, we call them the ABCDE's. "A" stands for asymmetry. So an asymmetric brown mole – and I’m putting mole in quotations – is the first thing that you might think might be a melanoma. 

"B" stands for border. So if it has an irregular or notched border, that’s a warning sign. "C" stands for colors. Most melanomas are going to have multiple colors. So they’ll be brown, black, and blue and red and white all in different shades. 

"D" stands for diameter. So melanomas are gonna be growing, and while they might start out small, they’ll generally grow bigger than six millimeters, which is about the size of the head of a pencil eraser. 

"E" stands for evolution. And this is to remind you that this is a cancer, meaning it’s growing and changing. So a mole that is evolving and changing rapidly over the course of a few months should be brought to attention.  

If you think you have a skin cancer, you should see your physician. Certainly if you have access to a dermatologist, see one. That can sometimes be a longer wait than people want.

So see your primary care physician, and if they think you have a problem, they’re either going to start taking care of it in their clinic or get you a prompter referral to a specialist for further diagnosis.  

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Presenter: Dr. Jan Peter Dank, Dermatologist, Bellingham, WA

Local Practitioners: Dermatologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.