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When Is a Mole Skin Cancer?

Most moles are harmless. But an irregular, bleeding, or otherwise troublesome mole is often the first sign of skin cancers, including melanoma. Do you know how to tell the difference? Learning your ABCDEs can help you to identify early warning signs of skin cancer -- and catch it before it spreads:

  • A = Asymmetry: One half of the mole is unlike the other half.
  • B = Border: The mole has an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border.
  • C = Color. The mole's color varies from one area to another; it has shades of tan, brown, or black or is sometimes white, red, or blue.
  • D - Diameter. Melanomas are usually greater than the size of a pencil eraser when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.
  • E = Evolving. A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape, or color.

Need to Know: If you see a mole that's changing or differs from the other moles on your body, see your dermatologist immediately.

Source: American Academy of Dermatology

Learn more about skin cancers.