February 29, 2024

Skin cancer prevention: Protect yourself with self-exams and skin checks

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If your skin mole changes in size, color or shape, you should see a doctor – especially if there is a history of cancer in the family.

“There is no such thing as ‘good’ UV rays: any type of UV rays can be harmful – regardless of the source.” German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), making it her mission to educate people about the risks of skin cancer. In Germany and around the world, skin cancer is now one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers, along with breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer. Doctors are not only finding a clear connection between recurrence of skin cancer and staying longer in the sun. The introduction of skin cancer screening in 2008 means that more cases – including early-stage and precancerous skin cancer – are caught earlier and better.

In order to reduce the risk of developing serious skin cancer, it is recommended to have regular checkups with a dermatologist. At the same time, people should regularly check their skin using the ABCDE examination, especially if there are many moles. If you experience specific signs or symptoms, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Early detection and prevention of skin cancer: What should you pay attention to when examining yourself?

Anyone who has at least 100 initially inconspicuous moles or at least five visible moles and 50 normal-looking moles on their body is at particular risk of developing skin cancer – especially if risk factors are present. © Anna Stacia/Imago

Skin cancer and its precursors can usually be detected through visual and tactile examinations. Therefore, it is important to notice early through regular self-examinations the appearance of new skin changes or growth of existing moles. the German Cancer Society (DKG) We highly recommend using daylight when examining yourself so you can see the skin and moles better. A mirror can also be helpful. This means that moles can be examined even in areas of the skin that are difficult to reach or see.

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advice

To perform an ABCDE self-examination, pay particular attention to changes in the arms, legs, between the fingers and toes, the soles of the feet, and the scalp. Your partner or relative may also be able to examine hard-to-reach areas of the skin.

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Particular attention should also be paid to pigmented moles, also known as moles or moles. Although it is harmless in most cases, there is a possibility that it can develop into a malignant tumor – a malignant melanoma such as melanoma.

It could be skin cancer if…

…An existing mole changes its size, color, or shape.
…a skin mole that begins to itch or bleed.

Source: German Cancer Society (DKG)

Detect or prevent skin cancer early: Skin screening can ultimately save lives

Those insured by statutory health insurance companies are entitled to a skin examination every two years for early detection of skin cancer starting at the age of 35 years. After that, the examination costs will be covered. The goal of screening is to detect the three main forms of skin cancer – malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma – as early as possible in order to prevent precancerous skin cancer and improve prognosis. Skin cancer screening is an important complement to self-examination. In fact, skin cancer screening can detect more potential skin abnormalities, which are often at an earlier stage at the time of diagnosis – so the prognosis is often better and the chance of a cure is increased.

Skin cancer screening: what's involved?

The examination usually takes about ten to 20 minutes. In the history interview, the dermatologist asks the patient about personal risk factors and possible skin cancer in the family after getting an idea of ​​skin types I to VI (light to dark skin type). The entire skin including the scalp and all visible mucous membranes including the nails are then examined.

Skin cancer can also develop under the nails

Before the examination, dark nail polish should be removed from the fingernails and toenails, as skin cancer can also develop under the nails in rare cases. Body jewelry such as ear studs or piercings can make it difficult to see small changes. Avoid wearing any makeup during the examination.

If the doctor detects any abnormalities during the dermatoscope examination, he will record and write them down and, if necessary, in a second step, send a skin sample to the laboratory for careful examination in a small surgical procedure. Basically, you should report any abnormality in your skin or change in a mole to your doctor immediately.

This article only contains general information about the health topic in question and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. It does not, in any way, replace a visit to a doctor. Our editorial team is not permitted to answer individual questions about medical conditions.