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Published on May 01, 2019

ABCDE of Skin Cancer

ABCDE Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world. It is important that you can identify any skin growths and/or spots on your skin that may be harmful and get them checked.

The 3 most common types of skin cancer are:

  • basal cell carcinoma
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • malignant melanoma

Basal cell is most common, but the most serious type is melanoma. Due largely to tanning bed use, young women are one of the fastest growing populations for a skin cancer diagnosis. No tanning bed exposure is safe.

Identifying Moles and Growths

ABCDE of MelanomaIndividuals should examine their skin for a new spot, bump or growth that itches, burns, bleeds or changes color or size. Use the ABCDE guidelines when examining moles.

A – Asymmetry: Different from one side to the next.

B – Border irregularity: Melanoma lesions usually have irregular borders that are difficult to define.

C – Color: Variation and/or change.

D – Diameter: More than 6 mm (end of a pen tip) and/or change in diameter.

E – Evolving: This has become the most important factor to consider when it comes to diagnosing a melanoma. If a mole is changing, it’s concerning.

You know your skin better than anyone else. Check for things that weren’t there before and bring them to your doctor’s attention.

The Cone Health Cancer Center has developed the Multidisciplinary Melanoma Program to help melanoma patients through diagnosis and treatment, close to home. Like all cancer, the sooner it’s detected, the better the treatment outcomes. If caught early, most small melanomas can be treated in your dermatologist’s office. There are better treatment outcomes now, more than ever, due to advances in molecular therapy.

Natalie Depcik-Smith, MD, is a dermatopathologist in Greensboro and the medical director of the Melanoma Program at the Cone Health Cancer Center. Depcik-Smith has extensive experience in cancer research and skin cancer diagnosis.