ABCDEs of Melanoma

The best defense against skin cancer is a good offense and that is where the ABCDEs of Melanoma come into play. Knowing the warning signs and how to spot them can assist in diagnosing skin cancer in early stages to avoid aggressive progression. Below are the five main criteria which identifies Melanoma, commonly known as the ABCDEs of Melanoma.

Learn more about Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, here.

*Please note: The below images do not illustrate all the identifying factors of Melanoma. Annual skin exams by a board-certified dermatologist or dermatology physician assistant are recommended to inspect all lesions and moles for possible irregular Melanomas.


  1. (A) Assymetry – Look for moles that do not have equal sides. If you cannot find a way to divide the mole down the middle and have two equal sides, the mole is assymetrical.
  2. (B) Borders – Suspicious moles have irregular borders that can be scalloped, notched or have jagged edges. Normal moles have even borders. Sometimes the border has what is called pigment spread. This is where you see two different colors of pigment at the border. This is a suspicious sign.
  3. (C) Color – Suspicious moles have irregular color patterns. Look for red, white, black or brown colors mixed in one mole. Normal moles often have one color, usually brown, tan or flesh color.
  4. (D) Diameter – Once, it was said that suspicious moles had a diameter at least the size of a pencil eraser or 6 millimeters. Recent evidence has shown that melanomas often begin at a much smaller size such as 3 millimeters.
  5. (E) Evolution – This may be the most important criteria. One of the most important signs leading to the diagnosis of a melanoma is change. That is a mole that changes, or a mole that is new has a higher chance of being abnormal than a mole that is stable over time. If you notice a changing mole, it is important that you see your dermatologist as soon as possible to have the mole evaluated.

As mentioned above, these are not the only identifying characteristics of Melanoma. There are types of Melanomas which have no color at all or those which resemble a new scar. It is important to note any new lesion on the body and discuss it with your provider.

Board-certified dermatologists and dermatology physician assistants are the top line of defense in the early detection and removal of Melanoma. When caught early, Melanoma has a high rate of curability, while more advanced stages of a much lower survival rate. This is why annual full body skin exams with a board-certified dermatologist or dermatology physician assistant in conjunction with monthly self exams are vital.

If you are concerned about a suspicious lesion or are due for a full body skin exam, simply contact our office to schedule an appointment. You deserve the healthiest skin possible and it is our goal at Dermatology and Laser Center of Charleston to make that happen.


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Office addresses:

2180 Henry Tecklenburg Dr.
Charleston, SC 29414

1364 Ashley River Road
Charleston, SC 29407

208 Brighton Park Blvd
Summerville, SC 29486

Phone: 843-556-8886
Fax: 843-556-8850

E-mail: Contact Form

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