Revised May 2014
Importance of Early Detection
Screening of high risk individuals to facilitate early detection is of vital importance in the management of melanoma. Survival is directly related to the depth of tumour invasion.
Clinical Clues for Early Detection (but these signs apply more generally)
The most reliable and most widely used criteria to identify lesions that require a biopsy to rule out melanomas is the “ABCDE” acronym.
A: Asymmetry in the shape
B: Border irregularity
C: Color variegation
D: Diameter greater than 6 mm (not absolute)
E: Evolving morphologically or symptomatically (such as growth faster than other lesions, pruritus, pain, bleeding and crusting).
Any nevus or a "mole" that undergoes a significant change in, shape or color, and a mole that causes symptoms of itching or burning should be suspect to be a melanoma. If there is a substantial concern about melanoma, excisional biopsy is indicated. Partial biopsy (such as a punch or incisional biopsy) of an acquired nevus is, because of sampling error, not generally recommended.