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Spotting suspicious moles: the ABCDE method.
Skin Institute
October 2, 2017

Skin cancers can be invasive. They’re visible on the surface of the skin, but can also grow downwards and spread to other parts of the body. This means that a small spot can be the sign of a much larger problem. Knowing what to look for could save you a lot of pain – and even your life.

There are two main types of skin cancer – melanoma and non-melanoma. In the non-melanoma type, there are two common subtypes: squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC).  Melanoma is the most serious type of cancer. It starts as a new mole or presents as a change in an existing mole – they usually get bigger and change colour.

The ABCDE of spotting skin cancer

It’s important to check yourself every four months and book a skin check with a skin specialist each year. This will mean you’re more likely to spot signs of sun damage before they develop into something more serious. You’ll also get a better understanding of what your normal skin looks like, so anything new or changing will be more obvious.

That mole on your back could be just that – a harmless mole, and nothing to worry about. Or it could be a sign that you’ve developed a skin cancer. The ABCDE method will help you tell which is which.

If you see more than one of these signs in your mole, make an appointment with your dermatologist right away.

A – Asymmetry

Benign ‘normal’ moles will generally be symmetrical – a nice round circle or oval, for example. A skin cancer lesion may be odd-shaped or asymmetrical.

B – Border

Look at the border of your mole – is it jagged, irregular, or without a hard edge? Usually, benign moles have smooth, even edges.

C – Colour

The colour of your mole is a sign too. Benign moles tend to have a single colour, while a lesion may have more than one colour or shade.

D – Diameter

Skin cancer lesions are often bigger than most moles – anything over 6 millimeters diameter could be a sign of skin cancer.

E – Evolution

How your mole changes or evolves over time is worth noticing – it could be the most important factor in telling the difference between a mole, which won’t change much at all, and skin cancer, which will grow or change colour very rapidly.

Get help fast

If you’ve spotted a suspicious mole, get in touch with the expert dermatologists at Skin Institute to discuss diagnosis and treatment options. Our own Dr Marcus Platts Mills, Dermatology Associate – Skin Cancer, says it could be much less impactful than you expect.

“Having a skin cancer diagnosed is an insurmountable fear for many people. However, not having it diagnosed is worse. The vast majority who are diagnosed with skin cancer and then treated are astounded at how easy the process was, and how much relief they felt from the process.”

If you’ve spotted any concerning lesions or moles, book a free spot check with our skin care specialists today. If you’ve never had your skin checked by a specialist (or it’s been a few years) a more thorough assessment is recommended – book a skin cancer consultation.


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