Skin cancer prevention - practical advice
Skin cancer is curable if detected early. With annual screening, malignant lesions that are detected and removed in time can be very curable, while those detected too late can metastasize. Practical advice on skin cancer prevention is summarized here by Zsófia Hatvani, PhD, dermatologist at Dr. Rose Private Hospital.
The benefits of state-of-the-art video dermoscopy screening
Melanoma is an aggressive, malignant skin tumor and there are several methods of screening available: in addition to the classic dermatoscope, video dermoscopic mole screening is nowadays considered cutting edge.
- With a video dermoscope we can examine the whole body, new formations and very detailed changes in existing moles. By comparing the moles and documenting their changes over time, we can detect as accurately as possible those that are changing and thus virtually prevent a more serious problem.
- During the examination, the entire body is photographed to first record the distribution of moles on the patient's body in a macro, or overview, image.
- We can then further examine individual moles with a so-called dermatoscope head, which allows us to magnify them 10-20, or even up to 50 times. This magnification allows us to see structures that can help the doctor professionally determine whether the formula is benign, questionable or possibly malignant. In this way, appropriate treatment can be started in time.
How should I arrive for a dermatological screening?
- Before the examination, make a note of any questions you have and any abnormalities you have noticed compared to the previous examination.
- Avoid wearing make-up before the test, as tinted make-up and lipstick can mask skin discoloration.
- For examination of the scalp, it is advisable to avoid hairspray, gel and hair coloring products.
- It is also advisable to avoid nail varnish, as skin lesions can develop under the nails.
- Do not use self-tanning products for two weeks before the screening, as they can also mask malignant lesions.
How do we protect our skin and sunbathe wisely?
- Use sunscreens with a sun protection factor of at least 30 (SPF30), the higher the SPF, the stronger the sun protection. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, especially if you sweat a lot, visit the beach or go swimming. Sun protection - whether it is clothing, textiles, hats, etc. or cosmetics - is important for women, men, children, people with light or darker skin and people who spend a lot of time outdoors because of their job or lifestyle.
- Wear suitable clothing and a sun hat. We don't really consider it, but our skin can get sunburnt when we go sightseeing or work outdoors. Sunglasses with UV filters protect our eyes.
- Avoid sunbathing and where possible avoid direct sunlight at midday (between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.), when UV radiation is strongest. If your lifestyle or recreational activities do not allow this, you should use cosmetic sunscreen and wear suitable clothing too.
- Pay attention to protecting children’s skin. Certain sunscreens are suitable from the age of six months.
- Use tested sunscreens and avoid perfumed products if you have sensitive skin. Always check the expiry date of sunscreens.
- Check your skin regularly. Seek medical advice if your mole has an irregular shape or a blurred or irregular edge, or if it is not uniform in color, larger than 5mm, or has an uneven surface. See a dermatologist if you notice any changes in your mole.
- Have an annual skin cancer screening.
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