Even if you are following sun safety guidelines and taking steps to prevent melanoma, it is important to examine your skin so that you can detect any suspicious lesions early on. In this video, Dr. Anna Pavlick explains the ABCDE melanoma system you can use during a skin self-exam. Dr. Pavlick is an oncologist and melanoma specialist at the NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center. The dermatologists at NYU created the ABCDE system for melanoma which helps to analyze any lesions on the skin and detect melanoma. Dr. Pavlick explains what each part of the ABCDE melanoma test stands for.
A means Asymmetry. Normal moles should be perfectly equal on all sides all the way around. One side should not be bigger or smaller than the other.
B stands for Borders. The borders of a normal mole should be smooth and crisp. If the edges of a mole start to look curly like cauliflower, that is an irregular border which needs to be evaluated by a dermatologist.
C is for Color. Most moles are uniformly one color, such as light or dark brown. On the other hand, melanomas can have multiple colors. Melanomas could be brown, black, white or have red spots in them. If you spot an abnormal lesion with multiple colors, you should get it checked by a dermatologist.
D stands for Diameter. Most moles are less than the size of a pencil eraser, which is about ¼ inch or 6 mm.
E is for Evolution. This goes back to the fact that many people have moles from the time they are young that stay with them throughout life. However if you notice an existing mole that begins to change size over time or evolve, this is a reason to talk to a dermatologist. The dermatologist will assess the mole to make sure it is not changing into a melanoma.
Keep this ABCDE melanoma test in mind when you are examining your skin.