Is It Skin Cancer? How to Tell a Harmless Mole from a Melanoma

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Stacey Colino on Jun 3, 2013 at 3:56PM

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Know Your ABCDEs

Courtesy of the Skin Cancer Foundation

a Stacey Colino on Jun 18, 2010 at 3:59PM

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer but it can be hard to identify. The ABCDE guide helps. If your mole fits the characteristics below, call your dermatologist pronto:
Asymmetry—if the mole could be folded in half, the two halves wouldn’t match
Border irregularities—the mole’s borders are uneven or blurred
Color variations—the mole has mixed shades of tan, brown, black or other hues
Diameter—the spot is bigger than a pencil eraser
Evolution—its appearance has changed in some way


“Skin cancer is highly curable when it’s found early,” says iVillage skin expert Doris Day, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University. “Keep an eye on your skin and look for changes.” Still, not every mole or mark is dangerous. Here are some more tips to tell the difference.

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