Learn the ABCDEs of melanoma so you can spot potentially cancerous moles.

By Julie Mazziotta
Updated: April 22, 2019

There's never a bad time of the year to check your skin for skin cancer, but as the weather heats up and we spend more time outside, it's vital. Plus, you can do it yourself in just five or 10 minutes. All you need to do is memorize these five warning signs of melanoma, called the ABCDEs of melanoma, which can help you identify what melanoma looks like.

In these photos, courtesy of the Skin Cancer Foundation, the first example of every set is normal. The second is an example of a suspicious spot can could be a warning sign of melanoma.

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Asymmetry

If you drew a line down the middle of a spot that could be melanoma, the two sides wouldn’t match.

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Borders

Uneven, squiggly edges can be a sign of early melanoma.

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Color

Check for subtle shading differences within the mole, or colors other than brown or black, like red or blue. Benign moles are usually all one shade of brown.

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Diameter

A mole 1/4-inch across (about the size of a pencil eraser) or larger should set off red flags. It could be a sign of a cancerous mole.

RELATED: 10 Things You Don’t Know About Melanoma

Evolution

Any changes—in size, shape, color, or more—can be signs of melanoma. Benign moles usually look the same over time.

Get more on melanoma here.

This post was originally published on April 13, 2015 and has been updated.

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