Physician Assistant Exam For Dummies
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You can use the alphabetic classification system to evaluate melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer. This guide helps you determine whether a skin lesion is malignant. The mnemonic is the first five letters of the English alphabet — A, B, C, D, and E. Here are the warning signs:

  • A = asymmetry: If one side of the lesion differs from the other, the lesion is more likely to be malignant.

  • B = borders: Are the borders of the skin lesion regular or irregular? Are they smooth or spiculated? The more irregular the borders, the greater the likelihood that you’re dealing with a malignancy.

  • C = colors: The melanoma may have more than one color.

  • D = diameter: The larger the lesion, the greater the risk that it’s melanoma. A skin lesion of more than 9–10 mm is more suspicious for melanoma.

  • E = evolution: How is the lesion changing over time, in terms of appearance and size? Melanoma is more likely to change.

If you suspect melanoma, the next step is a skin biopsy.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Rich Snyder, DO, is board certified in both internal medicine and nephrology. He teaches, lectures, and works with PA students, medical students, and medical residents. Barry Schoenborn, coauthor of Medical Dosage Calculations For Dummies, is a long-time technical and science writer.

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