Self assessment

ABCDE Criteria

When a melanoma is detected and treated during early stages, it is usually curable. Some melanomas are not easily spottable (in areas usually covered by clothes, hair or in hidden areas), but most of them, are easy to detect, as long as you know how to identify them.

Most people have skin spots (freckles, birth marks, moles, etc.). Most of these are normal, but some of them might be carcinogen, therefore it is important to be alert and informed about how to identify melanomas.

The ABCDE criteria, also known as melanoma’s ABCDE, stands for asymmetry, borders, color, diameter and evolving.

A – Asymmetry: If you draw a line through the middle, the two sides will match, meaning it is symmetrical. If you draw a line through this mole, the two halves will not match, meaning it is asymmetrical, a warning sign for melanoma.

B – Border: A benign mole has smooth, even borders, unlike melanomas. The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.

C – Color: Most benign moles are all one color, often a single shade of brown. Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, white or blue.

D – Diameter: Benign moles usually have a smaller diameter than malignant ones. Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the eraser on your pencil tip (¼ inch or 6mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.

E – Evolving: Be on the alert when a mole starts to evolve or change in any way. When a mole is evolving, see a doctor. Any change in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting points to danger.