The ABCDE’s of Skin Cancer – 09/27/2014

Now that summer is over and fall is almost here, sun tans will be disappearing. I have done some research on the internet about skin cancers. Here are copies of the articles that I found.

The ABCDE’s of Skin Cancer

Updated July 01, 2014.

A- Asymmetry:

Normal moles or freckles are completely symmetrical. If you were to draw a line through a normal spot, you would have two symmetrical halves. In cases of skin cancer, spots will not look the same on both sides.

B- Border:

A mole or spot with blurry and/or jagged edges.

C- Color:

A mole that is more than one hue is suspicious and needs to be evaluated by a doctor. Normal spots are usually one color. This can include lightening or darkening of the mole.

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D- Diameter:

If it is larger than a pencil eraser (about 1/4 inch or 6mm), it needs to be examined by a doctor. This is includes areas that do not have any other abnormalities (color, border, asymmetry).

E- Elevation:

Elevation means the mole is raised above the surface and has an uneven surface.

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Pictures of Melanoma
Pictures of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Pictures of Squamous Cell Carcinoma


Here are pictures that I found of the three types of skin cancers mentioned above. I copied the type of cancer and put it in as a search topic and then decided on which pictures I wanted to copy. Below are the results.


Mayo Clinic – Diseases and Conditions article is where I found these pictures.


Pictures of Melanoma

Slide show: Melanoma pictures to help identify skin cancer

Photo of mole that may become melanoma

The mole shown here does not fit into any of the other criteria — size, shape, color or pattern. But watch moles like this one closely for changes, due to the small amount of color irregularity.

Look for changes over time, such as a mole that grows in size or that changes color or shape. Moles may also evolve to develop new signs and symptoms, such as new itchiness or bleeding.

Melanoma pictures for self-examination
Melanoma — a serious form of skin cancer — is often curable if you find it early. These melanoma pictures can help you determine what to look for.The American Academy of Dermatology advises that you watch skin spots for these features:

  • Asymmetry
  • Border irregularity
  • Color changes
  • Diameter greater than 1/4 inch (about 6 millimeters)
  • Evolving

Follow this ABCDE guide to determine if an unusual mole or suspicious spot on your skin may be melanoma.

Photo of melanoma with asymmetrical shape

Asymmetrical skin growths, in which one part is different from the other, may indicate melanoma. Here, the left side of the mole is dark and slightly raised, whereas the right side is lighter in color and flat.

Photo of melanoma with irregular border

Melanomas may have borders that are vaguely defined. Growths with irregular, notched or scalloped borders need to be examined by a doctor.

Photo of melanoma showing changes in color

Multiple colors or uneven distribution of color may indicate cancer.

Photo of melanoma

A skin growth’s large size may be an indication of cancer. Have your doctor check out any growth larger than the diameter of a pencil eraser — about 1/4 inch (6 millimeters).


Genentech – A Member Of The Roche Group article is where I found these pictures.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Frequently, two or more of these features are present in one tumor. In addition, BCC sometimes resembles noncancerous skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. Only a trained physician, such as a specialist in diseases of the skin, can decide for sure. If you observe any of the warning signs or some other worrisome change in your skin, consult your physician immediately.


An open sore that bleeds, oozes, or crusts and remains open for a few weeks, only to heal up and then bleed again. A persistent, non­–healing sore is a very common sign of an early BCC.

A reddish patch or irritated area, frequently occurring on the face, chest, shoulders, arms, or legs. Sometimes the patch crusts, and it may also itch. At other times, it persists with no noticeable discomfort.



A shiny bump or nodule that is pearly or translucent and is often pink, red, or white. The bump can also be tan, black, or brown, especially in dark-haired people, and can be confused with a mole.



    A pink growth with a slightly elevated rolled border and a crusted indentation in the center. As the growth slowly enlarges, tiny blood vessels may develop on the surface.



A scar-like area that is white, yellow or waxy, and often has poorly defined borders; the skin itself appears shiny and taut.  This warning sign may indicate the presence of an invasive BCC that is larger than it appears to be on the surface.
Not To Be Ignored


BCCs are easily treated in their early stages. The larger the tumor has grown, however, the more extensive the treatment needed. Although this skin cancer seldom spreads, or metastasizes, to vital organs, it can damage surrounding tissue, sometimes causing considerable destruction and disfigurement — and some BCCs are more aggressive than others.

When small skin cancers are removed, the scars are usually cosmetically acceptable. If the tumors are very large, a skin graft or flap may be used to repair the wound in order to achieve the best cosmetic result and facilitate healing.
American Academy of Dermatology article is where I found  these pictures.
Squamous cell carcinoma: Signs and symptoms


  • Bowen’s disease
    This reddish crusted patch is Bowen’s disease, which is considered an early stage of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).


  • Bowen’s disease
    When caused by an HPV infection, SCC may start under a nail and destroy the nail.


  • Squamous cell carcinoma
    This skin cancer can grow quickly, often becoming a firm, dome-shaped growth with a crusty surface.


  • Squamous cell carcinoma
    This man has many precancerous growths on his foot called AKs. One AK progressed to SCC (the red growth on the right).


  • Squamous cell carcinoma
    After receiving an organ transplant, the risk for developing skin cancer increases.


  • Squamous cell carcinoma
    This skin cancer can begin in the mouth or on a lip.


  • Squamous cell carcinoma
    The growth on this man’s lower lip grew for years before he sought treatment.


  • Look at your skin
    If you see anything growing or changing, immediately make an appointment to see a dermatologist.

This skin cancer often develops on skin that has soaked up the sun for years. The face, ears, lips, backs of the hands, arms, and legs are common places for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) to form. Signs include:

  • A bump or lump on the skin that can feel rough.
  • As the bump or lump grows, it may become dome-shaped or crusty and can bleed.
  • A sore that doesn’t heal, or heals and returns.
  • Flat, reddish, scaly patch that grows slowly (Bowen’s disease).
  • In rare cases, SCC begins under a nail, which can grow and destroy the nail.

SCC can begin in a pre-cancerous growth

Some SCCs begin in a pre-cancerous growth called an actinic keratosis(ak-ti-nik ker-ah-TOE-sis), or AK. In adults 40 and older, it is believed that about 40 to 60 percent of SCCs begin in an AK. Signs and symptoms of an AK include:

  • Small, pink, rough, dry, scaly patch or growth on skin.
  • Rough patch or growth that feels irritated or even painful when rubbed.
  • Itching or burning on a patch of skin.
  • Lips feel constantly dry and have a whitish color or feel scaly.