How do you recognize skin cancer?


Skin cancer is defined as malignant neoplasms and diseases in the skin area, which can occur in various forms. A distinction is made between different forms of skin cancer, which, in addition to growth and spread, also differ in their prognosis. The frequency of new cases has increased significantly in Germany over the past ten years.

The most common form of skin cancer is so-called white skin cancer. This occurs preferentially in patients around the age of 60, grows rather slowly and does not form daughter structures (Metastases) that can settle in other parts of the body. The types of tumor that are classified as white skin cancer are the basalioma and the spinalioma.

Read more on the subject here: White skin cancer

Black skin cancer is less common, but it is far more feared. It is also known as "malignant melanoma". Since the cells of black skin cancer are able to distribute themselves via the body's own lymphatic system, it can lead to metastases in other organs and is therefore associated with a significantly poorer prognosis. In addition to white and black skin cancer, there are even rarer forms, such as Kaposi's sarcoma, which occurs in patients with a pronounced immune deficiency.

The greatest risk factor for the development of skin cancer is long-term excessive exposure of the skin to solar radiation. The sun or artificial radiation, such as in the solarium, emit so-called UV rays, which damage the genetic material in the skin cells. Over the years, the damaged cells can degenerate and lead to malignant neoplasms. Since more and more people, especially young people, are becoming ill, it is particularly important to pay attention to early detection as part of skin cancer screening.

New changes in the skin, such as spots, discoloration or structural unevenness, occur almost every day. Black skin cancer is often noticeable as a structure resembling a birthmark. It is flat, indistinctly delimited from the surrounding skin and is sometimes knotty. It is often located on the back or the extremities and appears brownish to black. At an advanced stage, blood secretions can occur.

The white skin cancer is mainly localized in the area of ​​the head and face and presents itself as a light-colored nodule with a cornified, scaly surface or with a smooth surface interspersed with small veins.


One falls Change in the skin or if a mole appears differently than usual, one should See a dermatologistwho takes a closer look at the affected area. First is a detailed conversation with the patient important to possible Risk factorssuch as family abnormalities or increased sun exposure or increased use of the tanning beds. It is also important to find out when the complaints occurred and how they have changed over the course of time. The investigation should focus on the Skin structure, bumps, discoloration and cornification be respected. If new dark or particularly light spots or discolorations are discovered, you should check whether they are on the surrounding skin well delineated are protruding or superficial and whether blood vessels can be seen. The affected skin area becomes examined carefully under a microscope and assessed and in the course of the examination the entire rest of the body must always be looked at.

At a suspicious examination results is a Sampling of the tissue is mandatory in order to be able to make a reliable diagnosis. The affected skin area becomes stunned and then the conspicuous skin area is removed taking into account a safety margin. Then the Tissue sample to a pathologist sent who assesses the composition and quality of the removed skin area. Skin cancer can only be diagnosed after the doctor has received a written assessment of the tissue sample.

Further examinations like a CT or MRI examination, an ultrasound, or an X-ray are necessary to assess how far the skin cancer has spread in the body and whether other organs have been affected Metastases the degenerated cells are affected.

Early detection of skin cancer

The early detection of skin cancer is the most important factor to improve the outcome of the disease. Especially with people who work on the black skin cancer are sick is one early diagnosis often extends life. The black skin cancer tends to develop quickly Metastases to form, which settle in the other organs of the body and affect them. Will the tumor detected prior to such metastasis, he's good at surgically removed become. But also with the types of white skin cancer The principle is: the earlier the diagnosis, the better the chances of recovery.

To a diagnosis as early as possible to be able to guarantee, use the statutory health insurance Skin cancer screeningthat every 2 years from the age of 35 can be done at a dermatologist. With this targeted screening, the entire skin of the patient is examined and looked at special abnormalities and changes examined. Particular attention is also paid to existing birthmarks and moles. If a part of the skin appears suspicious, a Sample taken and examined for degenerate cells.

At a skin cancer detected early, which only affects the uppermost cell layers, can proceeded well operationally and there is one Almost 100% healing chance. In patients with a particularly large number of birthmarks, more than 30 - 40, the growth and condition should be checked at regular intervals. In addition to participating in the screening examination, every patient should also independently control his skin and watch out for changes. This is the only way to ensure early detection of skin cancer.

Skin cancer from sunburn

Of the largest known risk factor for the development of skin cancer is the action of UV radiation. In contrast to the dark-skinned population, the white population in particular is at great risk, as they lack the protective color pigment. Long-term exposure to UV radiation leads to a Damage to the genetic materialwhich is in the skin cells. This damage can lead to Changes in certain genes which are responsible for the development of skin cancer.

Especially light skin is unprotected against solar radiation, so that the damage to the skin cells in the event of strong radiation exposure to a few hours sunburn to lead. The skin turns red and as a result Cell death arise Blow and the skin begins to peel off. If the sunburn heals, the top layer of skin is renewed again. The pigment cells are protected from cell death compared to the superficial skin cells. The Damage to the genetic materialcaused by UV radiation, collect and can degenerate in the course of life. Therefore, one should start one in childhood too much sun exposure and especially Avoid sunburn.

Skin cancer on birthmarks

Birthmarks are benign replicas of cells that produce the pigment melanin. They therefore usually appear brownish to black and can appear on the entire body. On the one hand, birthmarks can be congenital, on the other hand they can also develop in the course of life. Especially people with a light skin type often have more birthmarks than people with a dark skin type. The small dark spots are usually benign, but can also degenerate over time and develop into black skin cancer.

Birthmarks that change in size, extent, color and shape should urgently be examined by a dermatologist. With such birthmarks there is a strong increase in atypical cells. They represent a preliminary stage of black skin cancer, but do not necessarily have to degenerate. If you notice a birthmark that does not have a uniform shape, is difficult to distinguish from its surroundings, has changed its color gradient and has recently grown extremely quickly, the risk of developing skin cancer is very high and should be checked urgently.

However, a final diagnosis can only be made by examining a tissue sample obtained. People who have a particularly large number of moles should have an annual check-up by the dermatologist. Screenings were introduced for the early detection of skin cancer, which are paid for every two years from the age of 35 by the statutory health insurance.

A black birthmark that causes symptoms can cause skin cancer. For more information, please read: Black birthmark - how dangerous is it?

Skin cancer on the face

Forms of white skin cancer tend to occur on the face. The two subspecies of white skin cancer are the spinalioma and the basal cell carcinoma and have their origin in the degenerate cells of the uppermost skin layer (epidermis). Both types are typically localized in the head and face area.

The spinalioma can be recognized by the fact that it occurs primarily in the areas exposed to the sun. These include the lower lip, the bridge of the nose, the lower eyelids and the auricles. In most cases, these spinaliomas develop from preliminary stages, the so-called solar warts, which can develop over the course of many years of exposure to the sun.
These sun warts, which manifest themselves in the preferred areas of the face, have a reddish, slightly scaly change that does not cause any discomfort. In most cases, patients only report a slight itchiness on the affected area of ​​the face. If this solar wart then develops into a spinalioma, a significantly increasing cornification and nodular skin changes can be observed.

Another form of white skin cancer, basalioma, is also predominantly located in the face area. It is most commonly found on the bridge of the nose. A small, light, shiny lump is typical of basalioma on the face. In most cases these nodules are surrounded by small veins. A dent may develop in the center of the knot and bleed from it. It is also noticeable that they grow very slowly and destructively. The surrounding tissue is often infected and destroyed. However, it does not form metastases that are deposited in other organs.

Read more on the subject at:

  • Skin cancer on the face
  • Bowen’s disease precursor to skin cancer

Skin cancer on the head

Of the black skin cancer can affect all parts of the body, but is often special unreasonable places, such as in Genital area or on the Scalp localized. A Melanoma the scalp becomes common discovered later, as a freely visible change in other parts of the body. Because skin cancer no pain it is often only caused by thick, dense hair on the scalp discovered very late.

In most cases, the disease is well advanced and has at the time of diagnosis already metastasized. The melanomas of the scalp are usually noticeable because they are in the advanced stage increase greatly in size, begin to itch and maybe blossoms or secrete secretion. Because the scalp is well supplied with blood, there is a high risk of cancer cells spreading to the brain and in other organs. The skin cancer already has Metastases educated, the prognosis decreases clear.

It is also noticeable that in black skin cancer that manifests itself on the scalp, a significant higher risk of renewed growth exists in the same place. In most patients, a new growth comes back within a short time after removal of the tumor. The location of the tumor on the back of the head is particularly unfavorable.

Skin cancer in children

Skin cancer occurs in children very rare on. It is more a disease of the older population. However, one should with children also pay attention to possible signs and changes. In most cases, skin cancer in children is diagnosed late. This is because this disease is often forgotten in childhood. It is also particularly important with children Examine the skin carefully every time you bathe or swaddle. Particular attention should be paid to present Birthmarks and their growth behavior. New skin changes and particularly noticeable spots should be immediately clarified by a dermatologist become.

It is especially important for parents to take care of their children not without sufficient sun protection outside go. The skin of young children in particular is even more susceptible to the UV rays that come from the sun, as the skin is very sensitive and the skin's protective barrier is not yet fully developed. A Sunburn in children judges one significantly greater damage because the cells of the skin are severely damaged due to the lack of protection.