Figure 6. ABCDE rule:
Moles with and without
signs of cancer
The ABCDE rule is an
easy way to remember
how to tell a normal mole
apart from melanoma.
Illustration Copyright © 2014 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.
NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Melanoma, Version 1.2014
Signs and symptoms of melanoma
Lentigo maligna melanoma
Lentigo maligna melanoma is the slowest growing
type of melanoma. It is not associated with moles.
It looks like a dark stain with an uneven border.
Sometimes, lentigo maligna melanoma is mistaken
for a sunspot. This type of melanoma often occurs on
the face or arms of older adults.
Acral lentiginous melanoma
This type of melanoma occurs on the palms of the
hands or soles of the feet, including fingernails and
toenails. It can appear as a dark spot, like a bruise
that doesn’t go away. In a nail, it can look like a
dark stripe. Acral lentiginous melanoma is the least
common type of melanoma. However, in Asians
and people with darker-colored skin such as African
Americans, it is the most common type of melanoma.
Signs and symptoms of
Often, the first sign of melanoma skin cancer is a
mole or spot on the skin that looks abnormal—not
normal. It may be a new mole or an existing mole
that has changed over the past few weeks or months.
Finding melanoma before it grows deep in the skin
is important. This is because deeper melanomas are
more likely to have spread to other parts of the body.
Treatment is more likely to cure melanoma if it has
Skin self-exam: A mole that changes
is very important
You should learn about the differences between normal
and abnormal moles. The “ABCDE rule” is an easy
way to remember how to tell a normal mole apart
See Figure 6.
Normal moles have an
even tan, brown, or black color. Most normal moles are
less than ¼ inch in size—about the width of a pencil
eraser. However, normal moles may be larger than ¼
inch and some melanomas are smaller than ¼ inch.
Normal moles are round or oval and can be either flat