Self-Exams Can Be Keys to Early Melanoma Detection

Ohio State doctors want to save lives by sharing the ABCs – and Ds and Es – of melanoma.

The most common type of skin cancer, melanoma, is also the most aggressive, making early detection through education an important part of dermatologists’ efforts to improve outcomes for patients.

People can increase their chances of spotting melanoma’s symptoms via the ABCDE method during monthly skin self-exams, looking for the following warning signs on areas of their skin:

A – Asymmetry: One half of a mole or lesion does not look like the other half.
B – Border: The edges of a mole or lesion are uneven or look ragged.
C – Color: The color of a mole or lesion is not the same all over, having more than one shade or color to it.
D – Diameter: The size of the mole or lesion is larger than a pencil eraser (about 6 millimeters).
E – Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, color or beginning to bleed.

Any potential issues should lead to a visit to the doctor, says the Natalie Spaccarelli, MD.

“Sometimes there are melanomas that actually don't look like moles, which are a bit more difficult to detect,” she says. “So what I tell people is that when they notice a new or changing spot on their skin, they should go to their doctor, like their primary care doctor and ask him or her if they need to see a dermatologist.”