Russell Akin, MD | Board-Certified Dermatologist | Fellowship-Trained Mohs Surgeon | Skin Cancer Specialist | Midland, Texas

Do you have a new spot on your skin that you’re worried may be melanoma? A change in your skin is a common sign of skin cancer; however, not all skin cancers look the same. The three most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. While it’s important to always get a new spot checked out, in this post, Dr. Akin discusses how you can easily self-screen for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by using the “ABCD’s of Melanoma” method.

For melanoma, it’s important to note that about 70% of melanoma skin cancer just pops up and starts growing, while about 30% comes from a pre-existing mole or a mole that changes over time. We recommend regularly looking yourself over to know what’s going on with your skin and determining if there’s anything that’s growing, changing, or looks abnormal, so you can get it checked out.

When it comes to self-screening for melanoma-type skin cancer, we have a general criteria that we recommend patients utilize, which is called the “ABCD’s of Melanoma.”

ABCD’s of Self-Screening for Melanoma

A is for Asymmetry

If you “divide” a mole in half, and one side looks different than the other side, then it probably needs to be checked out.

B is for Borders

Look at the borders of the mole to see if they are “notched” or irregular. If you have a mole that previously looked normal in appearance, but it begins to change and has irregular borders, such as the appearance of a “Mickey Mouse hat,” then it’s important to get it checked out.

C is for Color Variation

Red, white, blue, black, or brown are all colors we can see in melanoma. Most melanomas are brown or pigmented lesions, but we can also see various colors associated with this skin cancer.

D is for Diameter

Most melanomas are larger in diameter. It’s a good rule of thumb to get your mole checked out if it’s larger than the size of a pencil eraser, or about 6mm. However, we have seen melanomas as small as 2-3mm, which is considered a very small lesion, but they’re typically larger. If you have a new or changing mole, it’s always important to still get it checked out by a dermatologist.

For more information regarding skin cancer removal and treatment options at Midland Dermatology, visit our Skin Cancer Treatments page or check out our Facebook or Instagram page for helpful skincare tips and education. At Midland Dermatology, we offer Mohs surgery and Xoft Brachytherapy to treat skin cancer. Mohs surgery is considered one of the best options for skin cancer removal, as it only removes thin layers of cancer-infected skin until cancer-free skin remains, while Xoft is a painless, non-surgical option to treat non-melanoma-type skin cancer. 


Russell Akin, MD, RPh. FACMS, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon who specializes in skin cancer treatments and other dermatological procedures with patients ages 12 and up at Midland Dermatology in Midland, Texas. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Akin, or any of the providers at Midland Dermatology, please call 432-689-2512.

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