A simple — and free — way to stop melanoma

Earlier this week I told you about a new study that showed sunscreen doesn’t seem to do much to prevent melanoma, except for those at the highest risk. Well now I’ve come across a study that shows a simple — and free — tactic that does have an effect. All it takes is an extra set of eyes…

The study, published in JAMA Dermatology, found that simply having a partner check for troublesome moles allows for potentially cancerous changes to be identified sooner.

Another interesting point: Men are better at noticing border irregularities than women, but women recognize color changes better than men. So a husband and wife can complement each other well in catching melanoma before it progresses. But being married isn’t a requirement. Just find someone you trust and are comfortable with, and get started.

If you need a quick refresher, here’s the general “ABCDE” rule for checking moles:

A: Asymmetry. The spot isn’t a perfect circle.

B: Border irregularity. Edges of the spot may appear notched or “bumpy” rather than smooth and even.

C: Color. A spot that appears mottled or is more than one single shade. (Also, brown and black aren’t the only colors. Melanoma can be pink, tan, or white.)

D: Diameter. Spots over 1/4 inch.

E: Evolution. The spot has grown larger or changed color over time.

If your partner finds something that looks suspicious, don’t wait to have it checked out. Catching melanoma early could save your life.


Robinson JK, Hultgren B, Mallett K, Turrisi R. Self-confidence and embarrassment about partner-assisted skin self-examination for melanomaJAMA Dermatology, 2016; DOI: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.4776