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Skin Cancer Screening

 

The goal of skin cancer screening is the early recognition of malignant changes in the skin. When recognized early, malignant skin tumors, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are not life-threatening! As long as the malignant cells are confined to the upper layers of the skin, these tumors can be completely excised and thus cured. Thus, the transition to an invasive tumor, which is potentially dangerous, cannot occur. In Germany all insured patients over 35 years of age are entitled to a skin cancer screening every 2 years. In Switzerland there are no age or interval limitations on reimbursement for skin cancer screening. Everyone should be examined periodically by a dermatologist; it is the simplest way to avoid trouble with skin cancers.

 

In addition, a monthly self-examination from the scalp to the soles using a mirror and ideally with the help of a partner is also valuable. You, and also your partner, know your skin best! If you notice changes in a mole or other new or rough spots, then it is wise to show them to a dermatologist.

 

Melanocytic nevi (moles) are potentially troublesome when they show changes in their form, color or size. The A-B-C-D rule helps identify possibly abnormal nevi.

 

  Asymmetry irregular, non-symmetrical form
  Border irregular border with leakage of pigment at edge
  Color light and dark areas, variations in color
  Diameter greater than 2mm

 

You should also be alert to color changes under a nail or on mucosa (mouth, genitalia).

 

The greatest risk factor for the development of a melanoma is the number of melanocytic nevi which are acquired after birth. An individual with more than 40 nevi has a 7-15 fold increased risk of developing a malignant melanoma. Sunburns during childhood or adolescence also increase the risk of skin cancer by 2-3 fold. Individuals with pale skin (skin types 1 and 2), red or blond hair, freckles, frequent sunburns or a family history of malignant melanoma have up to a 120 fold increased risk of melanoma.

 

Sun protection is thus a key aspect in the prevention of skin cancers. The main reasons for the dramatic increase in skin cancers are increased leisure time, year-round sun exposure thanks to vacations in sunny regions during winter, and the increased popularity of tanning parlors. Everyone's goal must be: Avoid sunburns!

 

My tips for effective sun avoidance and protection are:

 

 

Change your attitude about sun exposure!
Long stays in the sun and sunburns should not be an expected part of your recreational and vacation activities. Unfortunately, a good tan is still considered attractive and a sign of good health. Each of us is attractive in our own way - with our skin type, color and tan. „A good sunburn followed by a good tan“ is not good strategy. Every sunburn is an injury which leaves behind damaged tissue.

 

Change your daily habits!
Avoid the more intensive sun rays from 11 AM to 3 PM. In the shadows, such as under an umbrella, awning or tree, your UV exposure is reduced by 50%. Nonetheless, the reflection of light, especially from water, sand or snow, means that shadows are by no means totally protective!

 

Wear protective clothes!
Wearing a broad-brimmed hat provides shadows and thus protection for the eyes, nose, ears and neck. Sunglasses with 100 % UVA und UVB protection reduce the risk of eye damage. Today one could say: „Don't take your clothes off in the sun; put them on." The garments should be long-sleeved, tightly woven and loose. Many companies manufacture special sun protective clothing which is attractive and provides guaranteed protection.

 

Use sunscreens!
Apply a water-resistant sunscreen with a skin protection factor (SPF) of 20-50 to all exposed areas 30 minutes before going out in the sun. The average adult needs around 40 ml of sunscreen to cover their entire body; the tendency is to apply far too little sunscreen. Even when using a water-resistant sunscreen, it is wise to re-apply it after bathing. Some high-risk areas require extra protection, as they are most exposed: bald scalp or area exposed by part, bridge of nose, eyelids, upper part of cheeks, ears, lips, shoulders, décolleté and even the backs of hands and feet. Try to keep these areas covered or consider using a sunscreen with an SPF of 50.
Remember: sunscreens protect against sunburn, but not against skin cancers! For that reason, you should use sunscreens to protect areas you cannot cover with clothing, not to make it possible for you to stay out in the sun for much longer periods of time!

 

Avoid tanning parlors!
The additional UV exposure using sunbeds in tanning parlors is not to be recommended, especially not as a preparation for a vacation in the sun.

 

 

Let me advise and help you! I look forward to performing a skin cancer screening on you and then in a personalized consultation discussing with you how you can best avoid the risk of skin cancers, or if needed, making recommendations for the treatment of any problems we identify.






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