Skin Cancer


General Warning Signs

The following signs may be early indicators that you have skin cancer or that a skin cancer may develop in the future.  The signs below are often painless, but sometimes may be tender to the touch:

  • A waxy, pearly pimple on the skin covered with splotchy enlarged blood vessels and with a “rolled” border
  • A scar-like abnormality
  • A reddish skin patch (flat or slightly raised)
  • Rough, scaly, or crusted areas of the skin
  • Thick, horny growths
  • Wounds that ooze and do not heal after a reasonable time
  • A skin patch or mole that seems newly pigmented (darkened)
  • Any changes in color, size, surface, or borders of a mole

The "ABCD"s of Melanoma

You can remember the warning signs for melanoma by recalling the letters “ABCD”. They stand for the following things to look for when assessing your skin/moles:

  • Asymmetry (uneven or irregular shape)
  • Borders (uneven)
  • Color (tan, brown, gray, black or blue-black; a change in skin color may be quite varied)
  • Diameter (a mole or skin change of more than about a quarter of an inch).

Older adults over 65 years of age should also check for dark brown or black patches on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, or on the nail beds of the fingers or toes. These may be melanomas. 

Contact your usual healthcare provider or a dermatologist (a doctor with special training in skin diseases) if you notice anything on your skin that seems abnormal or suspicious to you.




Last Updated August 2020