What is ABCDE?

Five features that help to recognize carcinogenic moles

Normal: the mole is symmetrical with respect to its center or its axes.

Abnormal: the shape of the mole is asymmetrical.

Normal: the borders of the mole are well defined.

Abnormal: the borders between the mole and the skin are not clearly noticeable.

Normal: the color of the mole is dark and similar to the color of the other moles.

Abnormal: the mole has different shades of color or a different color from the other moles.

Normal: within 6mm, about the size of a pencil eraser.

Abnormal: bigger than 6mm.

Normal: the size of the mole remains the same.

Abnormal: any change in mole size, shape or elevation, or symptoms such as bleeding, itching or crusting.

Types of skin cancer

Know your enemy


Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. The most common diagnostic technique is still visual inspection: to detect melanomas and increase survival rates it is recommended that you learn to recognize them, to constantly examine moles for changes and to consult a qualified physician when a candidate appears.

Melanoma develops from pigment-containing cells known as melanocytes. Melanomas are usually caused by DNA damage resulting from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. Genetics also play a role. Globally, in 2012, melanoma occurred in 232,000 people and resulted in 55,000 deaths.

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Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. BCC is an abnormal, uncontrolled growth or lesion that arises in the skin's basal cells. It rarely becomes life-threatening but can be disfiguring if not treated promptly.

BCCs often look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or scars. Anyone with a history of sun exposure can develop BCC. However, the people at highest risk are those with fair skin, blond or red hair, and blue, green, or gray eyes. The tendency to develop BCC may also be inherited.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second most frequently occurring form of skin cancer. SCCs are uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells. They can become disfiguring and sometimes deadly if allowed to grow.

SCCs often look like scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growths with a central depression, or warts; they may crust or bleed. SCCs may occur on all areas of the body including the mucous membranes and genitals, but are most common in areas frequently exposed to the sun. While SCCs are almost always curable when detected and treated early, it's best to prevent them in the first place.

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