ABCDE Screening Guidelines

Skin cancer is not usually painful, which is why your regular skin self-examination is so important. The ABCDE screening guidelines can help during your skin self-exam. Here’s what to look for:

  • A is for asymmetry: Be on the lookout for moles where the shape of one half doesn’t match the other half.
  • B is for border: Here, the edges of a mole can be blurred, irregular, notched, or ragged in outline, and the color or pigment may have spread to the adjoining skin.
  • C is for color: White, grey, red, pink, or blue areas may exist. Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. The color may be uneven.
  • D is for diameter: A change in the size of a mole may occur. Usually it increases and is larger than a pencil eraser -- about 1/4 inch or six millimeters.
  • E is for evolving: Watch for any change in the shape, size, color, height, or any other trait of a mole, or new symptoms, such as bleeding, crusting, or itching.

Regularly checking your skin is key to early detection of skin cancer. Keep in mind that new growths, changes in old growths, or other symptoms may be warning signs and need further evaluation by your provider. Your provider can examine the skin changes to determine if treatment is needed.

A chart of the ABCDE Guidelines for Skin Cancer