Skin Cancer Precaution and Moles: Because our Skin Doesn't Forget Anything

Many moles or naevi on our skin are harmless. However, significant UV irradiation can stimulate them to undergo excessive growth and degeneration. Skin cancer develops as a result. The internal regulation can even fail in the case of keratinocytes: They multiply in an uncontrolled fashion and can become neoplastic.

These changes can be seen in particular on the "sun deck" parts of the skin:

  • Forehead
  • Outer ears (especially the upper edge)
  • Bridge of the nose
  • Lower lip
  • Backs of the hands
  • Scalp (particularly in the case of bald persons)

How long or how often the excessive sun exposure occurs does not play any role in this case: Our skin doesn't forget anything.

During a so-called skin cancer screening (skin screening), the dermatologists at Rosenpark Clinic systematically examine the entire surface of your body and assess changes with a trained eye. In the case of suspicious pigmented moles, we use reflected-light microscopy to also be able to assess altered cells without surgery.

It is imperative that you have a specialist look at your skin if

  • gnarled or scaly changes develop over a period of weeks
  • pigmented spots become dark or even multicolored, an irregular shape develops, or new, nodular portions form

Which forms of skin cancer and skin cancer precursors are there and how are they treated?

Early forms

  • Actinic keratoses
    • Rough, slightly thickened areas of skin with significant keratinization due to changes in cells in the epidermis
    • Develop above all on areas of the body exposed to sunlight
    • If not treated, can turn into a squamous cell carcinoma

OUR THERAPY: Photodynamic therapy (PDT), cryotherapy (cold), abrasion via laser or surgical removal.

  • Bowen's desease
    • Reddish or reddish-brown, generally flaky spots
    • Develops due to cells in the upper skin (epidermis) which have transformed into cancer cells
    • Also develops at areas of the body which are not exposed to sunlight
    • If left untreated, these areas never or very rarely disappear on their own
    • Highly likely to change into a squamous cell carcinoma

OUR THERAPY: Surgical removal, photodynamic therapy (PDT) or abrasion via laser.

Nonmelanoma skin cancer

  • Basal cell carcinoma
    • Most frequent form of skin cancer
    • Can have various manifestations: from only slightly darkened skin discoloration to bulging, nodular changes all the way to scar-like phenomena
  • Generally develops from the roots of the hair in the upper dermis
  • Most frequently occurs on parts of the body exposed to sun
  • Seldom if ever spreads to other organs
  • Can destroy surrounding tissue, however

OUR THERAPY: Surgical removal or photodynamic therapy (PDT).

  • Squamous cell carcinoma
    • Develops from cells in the epidermis
    • Slowly grows down into the skin
    • Visible as small nodules or lumps which slowly keratinize
    • The surface can to some extent be broken and crusty
    • If left untreated, can metastasize at an advanced stage

OUR THERAPY: Surgical removal

Malignant skin cancer

  • Malignant melanoma
    • Brownish, partially black to reddish, gray-bluish skin changes which at first glance appear similar to harmless pigmented moles
    • With nodular portions
    • With abnormal growth
    • Develops from benign age spots 30 percent of the time
    • Can also be newly formed
    • The most malignant skin tumor, since it rapidly metastasizes
    • 80 percent of cases occur in areas of the body that are normally clothed, also on a hair-covered head, underneath fingernails and toenails as well as on the soles of the feet
    • Early detection is life-saving in this form of skin cancer

OUR THERAPY: Surgical removal

For all forms of skin cancer and its precursors, the following applies: The earlier they are detected and treated, the better.

You can find more information in our "Dermatology" information sheets, which you can request from us free of charge.

Are you interested in a no-obligation personal consultation for cancer screening at Rosenpark Klinik? We would be happy to schedule an appointment for you.

Expert tip:

Dr. Sonja Sattler: "Through regular self-checks and regular skin cancer screenings, precancerous lesions or malignant changes can be detected and treated early. Early detection of malignant skin disease can be life-saving."

What you should be aware of

The risk group includes all persons who

  • have a family history or a personal history of skin cancer
  • have more than 50 pigmented moles over their entire body surface
  • belong to the pale skin type I-II and frequently have or have had sunburns

This group of persons can get a healthy suntan without any risks using self-tanners: These are applied to the skin and color the outermost layer of the epidermis. During the natural renewal process of the skin, the colored cells eventually flake off.

In addition, German Cancer Aid advises the following preventative measures:

  • Avoid midday sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Seek shade, especially in the middle of the day.
  • Wear protective clothing as well as sufficient head coverings and sunglasses.
  • Wear sunscreen daily with a sun protection factor of > 30.
  • Do not neglect sun protection even every day, during leisure and athletic activities.
  • Avoid tanning booths.