Taking Control
Learn the ABC’s of Skin Cancer Identification

Not every spot is a harmless spot. Learn to identify the bad ones by learning the ABC’s of Identification.

  1. A spot that forms a scab, re-scabs and fails to heal
  2. A scaly, skin thickening that develops in a small area, usually on the face, neck or hands
  3. A mole-like growth that increases in size, darkens, becomes ulcerated, or bleeds easily
  4. A pearly or waxy growth
  5. Any sore, blister, patch, pimple or other blemish that does not show signs of healing within two to three weeks

The ABC’s of Identification

Assymetry, Border, Color, and DiameterTake note in strange shape, edges, color, and size. The ABC's of melanoma are: Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color variability, and Diameter larger than a pencil eraser.


Most early melanomas are asymmetrical: a line through the middle would not create matching halves. Common moles are round and symmetrical.


The borders of early melanomas are often uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges. Common moles have smoother, more even borders.


Common moles usually are a single shade of brown. Varied shades of brown, tan, or black are often the first sign of melanoma. As melanomas progress, the colors red, white and blue may appear.


Early melanomas tend to grow larger than common moles—generally to at least the size of a pencil eraser (about 6mm, or 1/4 inch, in diameter).

If you spot any of these warning signs, see a doctor right away.

Q&A Videos

More sunscreen links


[ Next: Test your knowledge with games ]

Hey, it’s Cool in the Shade.
Protect your skin. Protect yourself.