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What is the ABCDE Assessment of Skin Cancer?

Finding out you have skin cancer can be some of the worst news you could receive. Knowing how to spot the first signs of skin cancer before it becomes a serious threat to your health and overall wellbeing, is the first step in avoiding that diagnosis.

Learning the ABCDE’s of cancer spotting can help maintain a cancer-free life. Go to your dermatologist right away if you see any of these signs on your body.

  1. Asymmetry- an uneven growth or mark that doesn’t have identical halves.
  2. Border Irregularity- the boarders tend to be uneven, blurred, scalloped or notched.
  3. Color- the color and pigmentation is not uniform. Different shades of tans, browns and blacks, splotches of red, white and blue, are all indicators.
  4. Diameter- the size of the mole is great than 6mm (1/4 inch) which is about the size of a pencil eraser.
  5. Evolution- a change occurs in the size, shape, color or symptoms, such as itchiness, scabbing, flaking, crusting, bleeding or tenderness.

There are 3 different types of skin cancer, all with varying degrees of danger. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common and usually occurs in areas of the skin that are sun-exposed. It will appear as an open sore, reddish patch, or waxy growth with elevated borders.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer which develops on sun-exposed skin. This type may appear as a scarly red patch with irregular borders, wart-like growth or open sore.

Melanoma is by far the most dangerous type of skin cancer. However, if any time of cancer goes left untreated for too long it could cause serious damage and place your life in jeopardy. Melanoma can occur on any area of the body, regardless of sun-exposure. It can appear as a mole, or an asymmetrical lesion with an irregular border. Telltale danger signs include uneven color or pigmentation and a diameter greater than 6 millimeters. Pre-cancer can develop on the body as Actinic Keratosis, which appears as a scaly or crusty bump.

About author - Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, MD, FAAD, FAACS, is the founder and medical director of the New York Cosmetic, Skin, & Laser Surgery Center. Dr. Rokhsar is a graduate of Harvard College and NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Rokhsar is double board certified in dermatology and micrographic dermatologic surgery, being one of the few select dermatologists in the country who is also fellowship trained in laser surgery. A researcher and innovator, Dr. Rokhsar is the creator of the non-surgical nose job and has been instrumental in the research and development of laser systems such as the Fraxel, CO2, Mirady, Vbeam, Themitight, and Ulthera devices. An Associate Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, Dr. Rokhsar actively teaches the cosmetic dermatology clinic to the resident at Mount Sinai. An expert injector of fillers, and a trainer for many companies, patients fly in from around the world to see Dr. Rokhsar in his Garden City and Manhattan offices in New York.

Learn more about Dr. Rokhsar | Dr. Rokhsar's Google Scholar