Video Production by Josh Melendez

This video describes the ABCDE’s of Melanoma skin cancer and atypical moles. Learn what to look for in moles or lesions on your body to better protect yourself.

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Video Transcript:

Today’s goal is to save your life.

We’re going to do that by talking about the A/B/C/D/Es of melanoma, and these A/B/C/D/Es of melanoma are also appropriate for the concept of atypical mole. Your local dermatologist wants your help in finding these lesions before we do. So if you’re looking your body over once a month in the mirror noticing if anything is new, anything is changing, anything is growing, anything simply will not heal or fulfills these A/B/C/D/Es criteria, we want you to schedule an appointment with your local dermatologist as soon as possible. We want to find things early. We want to treat them, and we want them not to affect your life.

So A: A stands for asymmetry. We want one half of a mole or lesion to look like the other half.

B is borders: we want to be able to clearly tell where our mole starts, and where a mole stops. If you can’t really decide where a mole stops or starts, that is concerning.

C is color: we like the color to be uniform throughout. We do not like the color to be black. Our preferred color is a nice even brown.

D is diameter: and we’d like them to be small. So they say less than the diameter of a pencil eraser. So a lesion that’s above that, that could be concerning.

And E is the most important: so if you don’t remember anything else from this entire lecture, E is what you need to remember, and E is evolving or changing. We want moles to stay the same. We want them to be the same for 20, 30, 50, 60 years. If a mole starts to change, you must come in to see your local dermatologist as soon as reasonably possible, to get it evaluated.

Now, it doesn’t mean that if something is changing, it is a melanoma or it is one of these atypical moles, but it does mean that you need an expert’s help to determine if anything else needs to be done. And the only way you’re going to be able to tell something’s changing, is if you look at yourself once a month in the mirror.

So this is an example of a melanoma that we biopsied off of a thigh. Now this lesion was changing ever so slightly over the last couple of years. So it met the criteria of E of evolving, of changing, and remember that’s the most important criteria. But also look at the asymmetry of this. This does not look like the mirror image of it from one side to the other. This is very asymmetric the borders, while in areas, they are crisp, you can tell where this lesion stops and starts. There are areas where you’re kind of wondering where the border of this lesion is, or is not, that is concerning. Look at the colors! There’s multiple different shades of brown, and black that are located in this lesion. The diameter of this lesion is about 1.7 centimeters, so it is definitely bigger than the size of an eraser.

Now this patient came in because over the last year or two it was changing, but just ever so slightly, and to her eye, it just didn’t look right. She did perfectly, and it saved her life. This was a melanoma, and it was a melanoma that was starting to develop depth. So she did what was right. She noticed something that was changing. She wasn’t quite sure if it was okay. She came in and we saved her life. And that’s what your local dermatologist wants to do for you.

We are here to help you live a life that is unencumbered by diseases of the hair, nail or skin. But we need your help. Now it’s really important to remember that you do not need all of the A/B/C/D/Es for you to be concerned about a lesion. All you need is one. So even if there’s just one you need to be seen by your local dermatologist as soon as possible . As always we thank you for allowing us to help you become comfortable in your skin.

Patient: Because I was pregnant I had left my annual visits go. It had been a couple years and so I was super nervous to come back in and I was almost kind of dreading it, and having guilty thoughts especially becoming a mom that what if I let something go too far, too long, and it’s gonna be a lot worse…

But I came in and I made that appointment, and you guys didn’t make me feel horrible about it. And then I did have some spots that had to be biopsied, but they were all atypical and so we were able to catch it before it turns into something more. My best advice would be if you’re feeling that, or even before that would be best, but especially if you’re feeling that, to get in and get checked, because you would like to catch something before it, so you can’t do anything about, or it’s you have to do a lot more. My best advice especially after being a mom would be come in and get checked out. Just do it for yourself.

About the author

Dr. Reagan Anderson

Dr. Anderson is a Board Certified Dermatologist and Mohs Micrographic Surgeon. He serves as a Clinical Professor of Dermatology and a Dermatology Residency Director at Rocky Vista University and is actively involved in patient and healthcare provider education on dermatology conditions and treatment.

Colorado Dermatology Institute
8580 Scarborough Drive / 1220 Lake Plaza Drive
Colorado Springs, Colorado