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Skin cancer risk: Recognizing the signs with ABCDE self-examination

Skin cancer risk: Recognizing the signs with ABCDE self-examination

  1. 24vita
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  3. cancer

If the birthmark changes even slightly in size, shape or color, you should see a doctor to rule out skin cancer or detect and treat it early.

Public figures like Duchess Sarah Margaret Ferguson, also known as “Fergie,” and celebrities, like singer Jimmy Buffett, are bringing the disease and its potentially serious consequences more into the public eye. the The divorced wife of Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York, has been diagnosed with skin cancer, shortly after she developed breast cancer and the associated surgical removal of her breast (mastectomy). Even famous songwriter Buffett died of skin cancer.

In order to avoid developing dangerous skin cancer, it is recommended not only to know and rule out risk factors, but also to have regular examinations by a dermatologist. People with many moles in particular should perform regular skin self-examinations using the simple ABCDE test. What other skin signs should you watch out for?

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer worldwide. In Germany, the number of new cases of aggressive black melanoma increased five-fold between 1970 and 2020, and younger people are increasingly affected. The number of deaths has been increasing steadily since 1997. Skin cancer is now one of the most common types of cancer – along with breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer.

Skin cancer prevention: When it makes sense to remove a birthmark, pay attention to the size, shape and color

If your existing mole changes in size, shape or colour, if it itches or bleeds, you should urgently see a dermatologist for examination. © ImageBroker/Rudolph/Imago

Basically, according to German Cancer Society e. V (DKG) A distinction is made between two types of skin cancer: the often more aggressive melanoma, which is more likely to form metastases – especially in the lungs, liver, bones or brain – and non-melanoma skin cancer, which is divided into basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Black melanoma often develops from a nevus that changes at the cellular level.

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Signs of potentially malignant melanoma can be:

  • The mole has recently formed or is showing changes in size, shape, color, or surface texture and may sometimes appear.
  • The shape of a skin mole is irregular and deviates from the typical circular or oval shape.
  • The outline of the mole is blurred, wavy or irregular, perhaps with jagged or finger-like bumps.
  • The color of skin moles is uneven and can vary from dark black to various light colors.
  • The skin mole is actually more than five millimeters in diameter.
  • A mole that itches, burns, oozes, or bleeds should be observed especially carefully.

If you notice any of these signs, you should have your mole examined by a dermatologist as soon as possible. Visible birthmarks are recorded and surgically removed if necessary. The tissue is then sent to a laboratory to check for possible degenerating cells that indicate skin cancer.

The first signs of skin cancer: what should you pay attention to during self-examination and the ABCDE rule?

Although malignant melanomas can vary greatly in appearance, they usually appear as dark or black spots. However, it is also possible for them to appear “angry”, i.e. grey, brindle, lead grey, bluish grey, bluish purple or even reddish. In terms of shape, they can be flat, raised above the surface of the skin, or have a nodular texture.

Signs of skin cancer: They also depend on regular self-examination

It is important to know: Skin cancer and its possible precursors are visible and tangible. Through regular self-examinations, you also have the opportunity to identify new skin changes at an early stage or determine whether existing moles have increased in size.

The ABCDE rule is based on loudness German Cancer Society (DKG) On the following criteria:

  • A for asymmetry

    It is a new, dark, irregular skin patch or a change in the shape of an existing skin patch.
  • B for limitation

    A dark patch of skin appears with blurred or rough lines.
  • C for “color”

    The striking feature is the spot, which is not a uniform colour, but rather interspersed with pink, gray or black dots.
  • D for diameter

    It is recommended that moles or moles be examined by a doctor if they are larger than five millimeters in diameter or have a hemispherical structure. Even smaller lesions less than five millimeters in size can be an indicator of skin cancer.
  • E for greatness

    If the mole protrudes more than one millimeter into the skin and its surface is rough, scaly, or flaky.

Black melanoma: Genetic predisposition plays an important role

Genetic predisposition to skin cancer also has an influence. For people with multiple individual risk factors, the risk of developing skin cancer increases up to 120-fold. Risk factors include, for example:

  • Light skin type, i.e. skin types I and II
  • Red or blonde hair
  • Tendency to develop freckles and/or sun spots
  • Immediate relatives who have also had malignant skin cancer such as melanoma

In the case of British Duchess Fergie, it turns out that her father, Ronald Ferguson, was already suffering from skin cancer in addition to prostate cancer in his early years.

Increased risk of skin cancer: which risk groups does it affect

People are particularly at risk of skin cancer if:

  • At least 100 initially inconspicuous moles on the body
  • At least five abnormal moles with atypical appearance and at least 50 moles with a normal appearance
  • At least five visible, atypical moles and at least two first-degree family members with melanoma
  • Skin cancer that has already occurred in the past

In principle, these factors can increase the risk of developing the disease, but do not necessarily lead to skin cancer.

Excessive exposure to UV rays and tanning salons poses a great danger

The risk of skin cancer increases by at least 75 percent with regular visits to tanning salons. Visiting a tanning salon just once a month for a year is enough to increase this risk. Natural sunlight should be avoided, especially in the middle of the day, and especially in the summer.

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.