The Ugly Duckling Rule for Detecting Skin Cancer

In Melbourne, FL

Spring is here and so starts many beautiful faces wanting to enjoy the outdoors. Living in the wonderful “Sunshine State,” we have to protect our skin and be aware of our skin and its changes, too.  In 2018, it is estimated that there will be 91,270 new cases of melanoma in the United States and 9,320 deaths from the disease. In our practice, one of our areas of expertise is recognizing and treating skin cancer. 

The ABCDE Rule

We believe the key to reducing skin cancer, as well as finding skin cancer as early as possible, is to educate our patients! This includes the importance of the daily use of sunblock, monthly self-skin exams, and teaching the first signs of detection. For many years, we have taught the ABCDE rule of detection (A=asymmetry, B=border irregularity, C=color variegation, D=diameter larger than 6 mm, E= evolving lesion). The ABCDE tool is used to help patients recognize and distinguish normal moles (benign nevi) from melanomas. Over half of melanomas are first detected by patients or their families.

The Ugly Duckling Rule

However, a newer screening tool is finding to be an even more effective addition to the previous rule. During our professional skin exam, when there is a particular mole that is concerning, we explain this to the patient and often describe how the mole stands out against the patient’s other moles (aka ugly ducking rule). 
The “Ugly Duckling” or “UD rule” stems from the notion that each person forms a characteristic pattern in their moles. Knowing this, you and those closest to you may be more able to initially recognize a spot of concern, looking for a lesion that breaks the typical pattern.  The addition of this rule to your typical ABCDE screening is important to ensure early detection.

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

It’s never too early. Let’s all be one step ahead by:
  1. Protecting our skin – Sunblock is an absolute must in our daily skin care regimen. Our practitioners have handpicked various sunblock options. These include Skin Medica Total Defense and Repair with anti-aging and heat protective properties, Eryfotona Actinica with DNA Repairsomes technology to help repair skin, and Sunforgettable for a lotion free, no eye sting, sensitive skin option. 
  2. Professional annual skin exam – Adrienne Vargas, PA-C, is here to assist. Please call to see if Adrienne is accepting new patients. 
  3. Monthly self skin exams – Check yourself and help loved ones. Educate yourself and those around you regarding the “ABDCE rule” and the “UD rule”.

Reference Article: The Ugly Duckling Rule in Melanoma Self Exam


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Dermatologist Dr. Anita Saluja and plastic surgeon Dr. Rebecca Novo have created an online shop for your convenience. They have curated scientific skin care products that they believe will deliver results: For Your Best Self. And you can always contact our office with any questions.

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