If in doubt, consult your doctor
Your question to our expert
Dr. Marcel Langenauer
Research & Development Louis Widmer SA
It is important to look out for changes to the skin and to consult a doctor if you find anything unusual. We cannot recommend systematic examinations for the early recognition of skin cancer (skin cancer screening) in persons with no increased risk at present as there is insufficient scientific data to base such recommendation on.
Persons with an increased risk
Persons showing one or several of the following signs should protect their skin particularly diligently against the sun and examine themselves regularly for any changes in the skin.
- More than 100 moles on the body
- Moles with an irregular shape and colour
- Early skin cancer symptoms
- Immunosuppression (a person's natural immune system has been weakened by illness or suppressed by medication, like after an organ transplant, for instance)
You should also discuss with a doctor if it is necessary for them to regularly check your skin.
Persons with a direct relative (parents, siblings, children) who is or has been suffering from melanoma may also have an increased risk and should discuss their personal sin cancer risk with their doctor.
Suspicious changes in the skin
The pigment cells produce the pigment melanin and can form moles, also known as liver spots or birthmarks. Some are congenital, others develop over a life time. Direct sun light promotes the development of moles.
In principle, moles are, and in most cases remain, harmless. In rare cases, moles may turn into skin cancer.
Around one fifth of all melanomas develop from existing moles.
The majority of melanomas are new. A melanoma may develop on any part of the skin, even on the genitals or beneath the toe or finger nails. There are also melanomas that do not create any melanin and are therefore hard to recognise.
Suspicious changes can be detected on the skin. Any mole that is very different in form and colour from the others or which changes should be examined by a doctor.