You may have expected it, but now its confirmed, having a full body skin cancer screening exam by a physician increases the chances of detecting an early rather than late melanoma. But what you may not have realized is the power of your own “self exam”. By performing regular self exams patients can increase the chances that any melanoma they develop will be detected earlier and thinner and so more likely curable. So get checked routinely but also make a habit of checking your own skin.

If you notice a suspect mole on your skin, you should follow the simple ABCDE rule which outlines the common warning signs of melanoma:

  • Asymmetry: One half does not match the other half.
  • Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.
  • Color: The pigmentation is not uniform. Shades of tan, brown or black are present. Occasionally dashes of red, white, and blue add to the mottled appearance.
  • Diameter: The width is greater than six millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser).
  • Evolution: Any change or growth of a mole should be of concern.

And the “Ugly Duckling Rule”. : Look for the mole that stands out compared to your other moles.


Association of Skin Examination Behaviors and Thinner Nodular vs Superficial Spreading Melanoma at Diagnosis
Clio Dessinioti, MD
et al.
JAMA Dermatol. Published online April 18, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.0288