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How to Tell If a Mole Is Cancerous

How the Alphabet Can Prevent Skin Cancer

Most of the more than one million cases of skin cancer that are diagnosed in the US each year are considered sun-related, and of those, almost 11,000 people will die each year. That's a lot of deaths that could be prevented if people just took care of their skin by wearing sunscreen and doing skin self-exams. Check yourself for suspicious-looking moles, and if you find something odd, make an appointment immediately with a dermatologist.

If you're not sure what you should be looking for — this is where your knowledge of the alphabet comes into play — follow the A,B,C,D,E rule. To learn the rule, just


A for asymmetry: A mole that, when divided in half, doesn't look the same on both sides.

B for border: A mole with edges that are blurry or jagged.

C for color: Changes in the color of a mole, including darkening, spread of color, loss of color, or the appearance of multiple colors such as blue, red, white, pink, purple or gray.

D for diameter: A mole larger than 1/4 inch in diameter.

E for elevation: A mole that is raised above the skin and has an uneven surface.

Check your skin often and look for these changes in your moles. Also be on the lookout for oozing, bleeding, itchiness, tenderness, or a mole that grows quickly. If detected early enough, the mole can be tested and removed if it's cancerous.

To protect yourself from future sun damage, remember to apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going outside, reapply it every two hours to prevent sunburn, and keep your skin protected at all times.


Join The Conversation
shazy77 shazy77 5 years
i have just develope a mole on the side of my face,it started about 3 weeks ago and keeps growing,it is kinda pink on top and darker under it,its is not a perfect circle and sometimes it is sore to touch
Nyrina-Windu Nyrina-Windu 8 years
Great info on this one.
katie448 katie448 8 years
Although you kind of touched it, you can add to the ABC's. You're missing: F- feelings. does it feel funny, hurt, itch etc? G- growth. have you noticed increases in size, changes in shape? also, for diameter- it is about the size of a pencil eraser (that's just easier for people) if you have one or even more of these things it does not mean you absolutely have skin cancer. and even if you don't, it's still a good idea to go see a dermatologist for a skin check once a year. and when you do, don't be modest. do a full body check. the doctor isn't judging what you look like just trying to get a close look at all the areas of your skin (even between your toes) - i'm a medical student and hopefully a future derm
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I have a lot of little moles that aren't even raised up on the skin, but I get kind of paranoid about all of them because my dad had a mole that became cancerous on his wrist. All of mine are very small and not very suspicious, but I'm keeping tabs on them all anyway.
Mariana48 Mariana48 8 years
i think i have one very fishy mole... i've had it for about a month and a half, so its new... i should get it checked out, im kinda freaked out now
michlny michlny 8 years
OMG! Ithink I have a malignant soon as you said itchiness...I was blowing it off - but.........
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