Know the ABCs, and DEs, of skin cancer 

Take important steps to protect your skin.


Want to take steps to help protect your skin? Taking a good look at your skin is a good place to start. Do you see anything unusual? Any changes? 

A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal or a change in a mole. 

The ABCDEs of melanoma

Melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer. But here's a simple way to remember the warning signs. Learn the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma:

  • “A” is for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape? Does it have two parts that look very different?
  • “B” is for border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
  • “C” is for color. Is the color uneven?
  • “D” is for diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
  • “E” is for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?

“You need to know how your skin normally looks. That's the first step to help spot a problem,” said Joshua Jacobs, MD, FAAFP, Optum. “The key to a good skin check is to pay attention to all parts of your body. Check your skin on a regular basis.”


Schedule your annual skin exam


Ask your doctor about it during your Annual Wellness Visit.

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How to check your skin

Area by area, look at your:

  • Chest, stomach, back and sides
  • Face, neck, ears and scalp
  • Fingernails, palms, and upper and lower arms
  • Legs, butt and genital area
  • Feet, including toenails, soles and between the toes

Some areas, like the scalp, can be difficult to check by yourself. Use a handheld mirror for those hard-to-see areas, or ask a loved one to help you.


Look for moles that are different or changing, or that itch or bleed. Overall, keep an eye out for skin changes. 

Talk to your doctor if you notice changes in your skin. Changes include: 

  • A new growth
  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • A change in an old growth
  • Any of the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma

Skin cancer is easier to care for when caught early.


Will Medicare cover an Annual Wellness Visit?


Original Medicare covers the Annual Wellness Visit at 100% of the Medicare-approved amount when you get the service from a provider who accepts Medicare. You pay nothing (no deductible or coinsurance).

Medicare Advantage plans must cover Annual Wellness Visits without applying deductibles, copays or coinsurance when you:

  • See a network provider, and 
  • Meet Medicare’s rules for the service


The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.