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US Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer. Washington (DC): Office of the Surgeon General (US); 2014.

Cover of The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer

The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer.

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Appendix 2Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer

Melanomas diagnosed at earlier stages are much more treatable than those diagnosed at later stages.6,31 Anyone can get skin cancer, and everyone should know the symptoms of this disease. Changes in the skin, such as a new growth, a sore that does not heal, or a change in an existing mole, are the most common signs of skin cancer.

The characteristics of malignant melanoma are often described as the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma:

  • A = asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape with two halves that look very different?
  • B = border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
  • C = color. Is the color uneven?
  • D = diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
  • E = evolving. Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?

Not all skin cancers look the same. If a person notices a change in the skin, such as a new growth, a sore that does not heal, a change in an old growth, or any of the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma, he or she should consult a doctor.

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