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Abcd’s Of Skin Cancer

What To Look For: The Abcdes Of Skin Cancer

ABCDE Melanoma Skin Cancer Assessment Nursing (with Pictures)

April 10, 2015 by R. Todd Plott, MD

More than 2 million Americans are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer each year. However, when detected early, skin cancer can almost always be removed and cured.

All adults, even those who have never had the slightest skin issue, should be vigilant about regular self-exams on a monthly basis. Check every inch of your body front, back, arms, legs, hands, feet, head and neck and use a mirror when necessary.

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The Abcdes Skin Cancer Assessment

Tags: Skin Cancer , Skin Health ,

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States?

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. One in five Americans develops skin cancer, and one person dies every hour from melanoma, the deadliest form of the disease. There is good news though learning how to perform a skin self-exam could save your life.

Can You Spot A Melanoma

Melanomas often resemble moles, and some will develop from moles. The first signs of a melanoma or a malignant mole usually appear in one or more atypical moles.

The best way to remember how to identify a melanoma is using your ABCDE’s. Here are the warning signs to spot a melanoma. If you have one or more of these signs, see a board-certified dermatologist immediately:

A: An ASYMMETRICAL shape, meaning if you draw a line through the middle of the mole, the two sides wont match up.

B: A benign mole has an even border. A malignant mole has an uneven BORDER.

C: A benign mole is one color. The COLOR varies on melanomas. Most are black or brown, with a color that changes from one shade to another. You may notice skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white.

D: Benign moles are small. Malignant moles have a DIAMETER thats usually greater than 6 mm the length of a pencil eraser.

E: Benign moles change minimally over time. A malignant mole is EVOLVING or changing. Its changing in size, shape, or color it is different from the others on your body. It may also bleed or itch.

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Listen Now: Skin Cancer Screening Self

With skin cancer being the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide, it is imperative people do everything they can to protect themselves from the suns raysstarting from a very young age. Dr. Juliana Meyer, melanoma surgeon with Franciscan Health, discusses skin cancer prevention and detection in the Franciscan DocPod Podcast.

What Is Skin Cancer

Dr. Visha Blog: The ABCDE of Melanoma

This diagram shows the different layers of the skin. Basal cell carcinoma begins in the basal cell layer of the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the squamous layer of the skin. Melanoma begins in the melanocytes, which are the cells that make melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color.

The skin is the bodys largest organ. Skin has several layers, but the two main layers are the epidermis and the dermis . Skin cancer begins in the epidermis, which is made up of three kinds of cells

  • Squamous cells: Thin, flat cells that form the top layer of the epidermis.
  • Basal cells: Round cells under the squamous cells.
  • Melanocytes: Cells that make melanin and are found in the lower part of the epidermis. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its color. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes make more pigment and cause the skin to darken.

Basal and squamous cell carcinomas are the two most common types of skin cancer. They begin in the basal and squamous layers of the skin, respectively. Both can usually be cured, but they can be disfiguring and expensive to treat.

Melanoma, the third most common type of skin cancer, begins in the melanocytes. Of all types of skin cancer, melanoma causes the most deaths because of its tendency to spread to other parts of the body, including vital organs.

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What Are The Signs Of Skin Cancer

Learning the ABCDEs of skin cancer is important in identifying, treating and preventing skin cancer, says Dr. Vinod Nambudiri a dermatologist in the Department of Dermatology at Brigham and Womens Hospital. People can look for signs of skin cancer in moles or skin lesions using these letters, and a self skin exam is quick, easy and free.

A Asymmetry: One half is unlike the other half.

B Borders: Irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border

C Color: Varied from one area to another

D Diameter: Diameter of 6mm or larger

E Evolution: Looks different from the rest, or is changing in size, color, or shape

What Is The ‘abcdefg’ Of Melanoma

The ‘ABCDE’ of melanoma is an acronym designed to help the public and clinicians identify features in a skin lesion that may suggest an early or in situmelanoma .


The EFG of melanoma is another acronym designed to help the public and clinicians identify skin changes in a lesion suggestive of nodular melanoma.


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Learn The Abcdes Of Skin Cancer

Did you know that skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States each year? In fact, one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in his or her lifetime.

The most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, followed by melanoma and other skin cancers. When identified early, almost all skin cancers can be cured with treatment.

Title: Segmentation And Abcd Rule Extraction For Skin Tumors Classification

Skin Cancer Signs: The ABCDEs of Melanoma

Abstract: During the last years, computer vision-based diagnosis systems have beenwidely used in several hospitals and dermatology clinics, aiming at the earlydetection of malignant melanoma tumor, which is among the most frequent typesof skin cancer. In this work, we present an automated diagnosis system based onthe ABCD rule used in clinical diagnosis in order to discriminate benign frommalignant skin lesions. First, to reduce the influence of small structures, apreprocessing step based on morphological and fast marching schemes is used. Inthe second step, an unsupervised approach for lesion segmentation is proposed.Iterative thresholding is applied to initialize level set automatically. As thedetection of an automated border is an important step for the correctness ofsubsequent phases in the computerized melanoma recognition systems, we compareits accuracy with growcut and mean shift algorithms, and discuss how theseresults may influence in the following steps: the feature extraction and thefinal lesion classification. Relying on visual diagnosis four features:Asymmetry , Border , Color and Diversity are computed and used toconstruct a classification module based on artificial neural network for therecognition of malignant melanoma. This framework has been tested on adermoscopic database of 320 images. The classification results show anincreasing true detection rate and a decreasing false positive rate.


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How To Check Your Skin For Skin Cancer

Follow these tips from board-certified dermatologists to increase your chances of spotting skin cancer early, when its most treatable.

If you notice any new spots on your skin, spots that are different from others, or spots that are changing, itching or bleeding, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.

How to check your skin for skin cancer

Follow these tips from board-certified dermatologists to increase your chances of spotting skin cancer early, when its most treatable.

If you notice any new spots on your skin, spots that are different from others, or spots that are changing, itching or bleeding, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.

Related AAD resources

What You Can Do

Check yourself: No matter your risk, examine your skin head-to-toe once a month to identify potential skin cancers early. Take note of existing moles or lesions that grow or change. Learn how to check your skin here.

When in doubt, check it out. Because melanoma can be so dangerous once it advances, follow your instincts. Visit your doctor if you see a spot that just doesnt seem right.

Keep in mind that while important, monthly self-exams are not enough. See your dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin exam.

If youve had a melanoma, follow up regularly with your doctor once treatment is complete. Stick to the schedule your doctor recommends. This ensures that you identify any recurrence as early as possible.

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Melanoma Can Be Tricky

Identifying a potential skin cancer is not easy, and not all melanomas follow the rules. Melanomas come in many forms and may display none of the typical warning signs.

Its also important to note that about 20 to 30 percent of melanomas develop in existing moles, while 70 to 80 percent arise on seemingly normal skin.

Amelanotic melanomas are missing the dark pigment melanin that gives most moles their color. Amelanotic melanomas may be pinkish, reddish, white, the color of your skin or even clear and colorless, making them difficult to recognize.

Acral lentiginous melanoma , the most common form of melanoma found in people of color, often appears in hard-to-spot places, including under the fingernails or toenails, on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet. View images.

The takeaway: Be watchful for any new mole or freckle that arises on your skin, a sore or spot that does not heal, any existing mole that starts changing or any spot, mole or lesion that looks unusual.

Acral lentiginous melanoma is the most common melanoma found in people of color.

Look Out For An Ugly Duckling

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

The Ugly Duckling is another warning sign of melanoma. This recognition strategy is based on the concept that most normal moles on your body resemble one another, while melanomas stand out like ugly ducklings in comparison. This highlights the importance of not just checking for irregularities, but also comparing any suspicious spot to surrounding moles to determine whether it looks different from its neighbors. These ugly duckling lesions can be larger, smaller, lighter or darker, compared to surrounding moles. Also, isolated lesions without surrounding moles for comparison are considered ugly ducklings.

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Do All Melanomas Display Abcdefg Characteristics

While the ABCDEFG criteria has been proven to be very helpful in identifying a potential melanoma, they cannot be used to reliably recognise all melanomas. A melanoma may be symmetrical in shape, with a uniform border, and without much colour variation.

The ABCDEFG criteria are particularly unhelpful in the diagnosis of some less common subtypes of melanomas such as desmoplastic melanoma and melanoma in childhood, as these often lack the ABCDEFG features.

Melanomas without ABCDs

This Abcde Guide Can Help You Determine If A Mole Or Spot May Indicate Melanoma Or Other Skin Cancers:

  • Asymmetrical shape: One half is unlike the other half and not round or oval
  • Border: Notched, irregular or scalloped borders
  • Color: Multiple colors, changes in color or uneven color
  • Diameter: Larger than 1/4 inch or a pencil eraser
  • Evolving: Change in size, shape, color or height new signs and symptoms, such as itchiness, tenderness or bleeding or nonhealing sores

It’s important to watch for moles that stick out or appear different than other moles. They are sometimes referred to as “ugly ducklings” and should raise your suspicion of melanoma. Cancerous, or malignant, moles vary greatly in appearance. Some may show all the features listed above. Others may have only one or two.

Check out the Skin Cancer Foundation’s slideshow of the ABCDEs of moles to become familiar with atypical moles.

If you notice any of these changes, schedule an appointment with your health care team.

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Skin Cancer Screenings And Annual Exams

While the ABCDEs of skin cancer recognition are a great first step to staying ahead of a skin cancer diagnosis, screenings and annual exams are just as important in fighting skin cancer. Even the most diligent individual is bound to miss certain sections of the skin due to physical limitations when it comes to self-examinations. For this reason, its important that those individuals who are highly susceptible to skin cancer schedule regular screenings. For the vast majority of patients, annual exams are sufficient for early detection. Having a trained physician take time to thoroughly inspect your skin for any potential abnormalities is a quick and easy way to get ahead of the curve.

What Does Melanoma Skin Cancer Look Like How To Check For Skin Cancer With The Abcds Of Self

How to Detect Skin Cancer Using ABCDE Rule

Russell Akin, MD | Board-Certified Dermatologist | Fellowship-Trained Mohs Surgeon | Skin Cancer Specialist | Midland, Texas

Do you have a new spot on your skin that youre worried may be melanoma? A change in your skin is a common sign of skin cancer however, not all skin cancers look the same. The three most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma , squamous cell carcinoma , and melanoma. While its important to always get a new spot checked out, in this post, Dr. Akin discusses how you can easily self-screen for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by using the ABCDs of Melanoma method.

For melanoma, its important to note that about 70% of melanoma skin cancer just pops up and starts growing, while about 30% comes from a pre-existing mole or a mole that changes over time. We recommend regularly looking yourself over to know whats going on with your skin and determining if theres anything thats growing, changing, or looks abnormal, so you can get it checked out.

When it comes to self-screening for melanoma-type skin cancer, we have a general criteria that we recommend patients utilize, which is called the ABCDs of Melanoma.

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Abcdes Of Skin Cancer Explained

So, what are the ABCDEs of skin cancer? Each letter stands for a common visual sign associated with one or more forms of the disease:

If an unexplained growth on your body displays even one of these signs, its important to check in with a professional at the earliest opportunity.

Before we dive into each of these symptoms, keep in mind that skin cancer wont necessarily manifest with these symptoms. Certain common forms of skin cancer may take other formslike a red and scaly patch, just to name one example.

What Is A Skin Self

Its essential to check your skin regularly and a self-exam is the perfect way to check for any unusual lumps, bumps, rashes, or abnormalities.

  • Use a full-length mirror to examine your entire body, front, and back.
  • Raise your arms to look at your left and right sides.
  • Bend your elbows and carefully check your forearms, underarms, and palms.
  • Check the back of your legs and feet, between your toes, and on the soles of your feet.
  • When nail polish is removed, check your fingernails and toenails.
  • Use a hand mirror to check the back of your neck, scalp, hair, back, and buttocks.

If you need help, ask a partner to check hard-to-see areas.

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When To See A Healthcare Provider

If you notice any changes to your skin that worry you, see your healthcare provider or ask for a referral to a qualified dermatologist. This is particularly true if there is any blemish or growth that changes rapidly or bleeds easily.

While not all skin changes are caused by cancer, the advantages of early diagnosis greatly outweigh the inconvenience of a healthcare providers visit. Make your appointment today.

How Is The Abcde Rule For Melanoma Used

Skin cancer always a risk â even in winter

The ABCDE rule tells you what to look for when examining your skin.

The A stands for asymmetrical. One half of a cancerous spot or mole may not match the other if you were to split the mole in half. Noncancerous moles are typically symmetrical.

B is for border. The border of a cancerous spot or mole may be irregular or blurred, or it may be pink or red in color. A typical spot or mole is likely to have well-defined borders.

Next up is color. A typical mole tends to be evenly colored, usually a single shade of brown. A cancerous spot may not be the same color all over.

It can be several shades of the same color or made up of several colors, including tan, brown, or black. They can even include areas of white, red, or blue.

Amelanotic melanomas are harder to detect. They dont change melanin, so theyre the same color as your skin. Theyre often diagnosed late because of this.

The diameter of the spot or mole is also important. It may be a warning sign if its larger than 1/4 inch across , which is about the size of a pencil eraser.

Also note if the spot is evolving. Spots due to melanoma may grow or change color or shape. They may also start to itch or bleed. Benign spots and moles dont usually change.

Read Also: What Can Melanoma Look Like

How Can You Prevent Skin Cancer

In addition to regular self skin exams, you should also have a skin exam by your primary care physician or a dermatologist each year. Tell your health care provider about any risk factors, including: sun exposure, use of indoor tanning devices, age, prior skin cancer or family history, and other health conditions.

Using sunscreen and limiting exposure to the sun during peak sun hours by seeking shade and avoiding direct sun are the easiest ways to help prevent skin cancer. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that filters both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays and offers a sun protection factor of 30 or higher every day, even in the winter and on cloudy days. Apply liberally and reapply every 2 hours. In addition, wearing sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection, as well as a wide-brimmed hat, is recommended.

Vinod E. Nambudiri, MD, MBA, is a dermatologist in the Department of Dermatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Instructor in Dermatology at Harvard Medical School.


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