A doctor inspects a suspicious mole on the back of a woman; how to identify skin cancer concept
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1. Ugly Ducklings

This photograph, produced by the Skin Cancer Foundation, and made available by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), depicts a close view of a dermatology patient’s skin surface, revealing the presence of an asymmetrical, dark-brown pigmented lesion, which was diagnosed as melanoma. Note that the left half of this lesion is much thicker than its right. This asymmetry should be a warning sign to an experienced dermatologist. The thickness, in and of itself, is a danger sign, for it could indicate that the lesion’s depth now includes the dermis, below the outer epidermal layer. These features could indicate a possible melanomatous lesion. Use of this image requires acknowledgement that NCI is the image source, as well as the inclusion of the website, www.cancer.gov.
Skin Cancer Foundation; www.cancer.gov

The ugly duckling isn’t just a nursery rhyme character, but also a term experts use to define one standout symptom of skin cancer.

What is an “ugly duckling”?

An ugly duckling is, as the name implies, an odd patch of skin that does not look like other moles or freckles. In other words, it is a patch of skin that looks odd.

What type of cancer is it?

Like the ABCDE method, the “ugly duckling sign” can indicate melanoma.

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