Not a nice topic, but an important one: skin cancer is one of the 5 most common cancers - and the numbers have been rising constantly for years. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the nationwide number of hospital treatments with a skin cancer diagnosis rose by 17.1 percent between 2010 and 2015. Skin cancer can not only affect older people, but increasingly young people as well.
Manuel has already had his own experience with this topic: "When I was a child, my parents always made sure that I used the right products for good sun protection. As a teenager, I tended to neglect this. And unfortunately that did not remain without consequences: The small scar on my nose is a reminder of my three operations due to my skin cancer diagnosis. I have learned from this experience and always make sure to protect my skin well."
The good news is: caught early, skin cancer can be treated and cured well in many cases. And the chances of early detection are good if we stay alert and take care of our bodies.
What does skin cancer look like?
Basically, we distinguish between two types of skin cancer: Black skin cancer (also known as "malignant melanoma") and white or light skin cancer, which can occur in two forms: On the one hand as basal cell carcinoma, which is characterised by a shiny skin surface, and on the other hand as squamous cell carcinoma, which can be recognised by a rough, partly scaly surface.
Black skin cancer is considered particularly dangerous: it is usually more aggressive and can spread quickly. However, white skin cancer can also be fatal in the worst case if it is detected too late and penetrates deep into the tissue.
Sun as a risk factor
The sun plays the biggest role in the development of skin cancer. Without good sun protection, the skin cannot do much to counteract the dangerous UV-A and UV-B radiation of the sun – the radiation penetrates the skin layers and can thus cause damage to the genetic material of the cells. To a small extent, our body is able to repair this damage – but individual cells remain damaged in the long term and can develop into cancer cells over time. The rule applies that the skin does not "forget" a sunburn in life - especially sunburns in childhood and adolescence can lead to skin cancer in adulthood.
Skin cancer therefore develops particularly often on the so-called "sun terraces" of the body, i.e. the areas of the skin that are particularly intensively exposed to the sun: on the face (especially on the forehead and bridge of the nose), on the shoulders, neck or back, but also on the back of the hands or forearms.
A simple remedy for this: Good sun protection. Here we have put together some tips on how you can protect yourself most effectively from the sun.
Manuel: "Since I got skin cancer on my face, there is no way around a good sunscreen for me. With newkee, we have developed good products for sun protection, but I would like to emphasise that the most important thing is to protect yourself from the sun in the first place – regardless of whether you use newkee or another sunscreen. If you are purely profit-oriented, you launch your sunscreen in spring – we don't do that at newkee, because we basically want to educate and show that the topic is important to us. No matter what time of year it is."
Self-examination: an important component of skin cancer detection
The earlier you recognise changes on your skin and thus potential skin cancer, the better the chances of treatment. Therefore, it is important to check your own body regularly and to know the typical signs of skin cancer.
The best way to do this is with a regular self-test, in which you check your moles and liver spots for abnormalities about once a month.
You can use the so-called "ugly-duckling principle", which assumes that all moles on your body look similar in terms of shape and type. If you find moles that stand out from this pattern, they should be considered conspicuous.
The ABCDE rule, which you can use to check your moles, is more accurate. The letters represent the characteristics of each birthmark:
A normal, healthy birthmark is uniformly round or (elongated) oval in shape. If you discover a deviating, asymmetrical shape, consult your dermatologist.
Your moles or liver spots should be sharply delineated from the surrounding skin - frayed, washed out or blurred edges indicate possible cancer.
C: Color (of the birthmark)
Healthy moles are evenly coloured. If the colour of a birthmark is uneven, it is better to have it checked.
Moles that are larger than 5 millimetres in diameter should be checked by a dermatologist.
What you should also show to your dermatologist for clarification are moles that protrude more than one millimetre above the normal skin level or are characterised by a scaly, rough surface.
Our tip: You should always do your monthly check in good daylight. Make sure you look at all areas of the skin and don't leave anything out – you can use a mirror or ask a third person for help.
Also important: If a mole or birthmark changes its size, shape or colour over time, please consult a doctor!
Indispensable: Skin cancer screening by the dermatologist
Self-examination is an important component of good skin cancer prevention, but it can never replace one thing: A regular check-up with your dermatologist. Every two years, you should have your skin checked by a professional skin cancer screening – from the age of 35, the costs of the examination are covered by the statutory health insurance.
During the screening, the dermatologist looks at your skin either with the naked eye or with a dermatoscope for possible abnormalities, and also examines the scalp, mucous membranes or fingernails and toenails. Questions about the patient's medical history, possible cases of skin cancer in the family and how to deal with the sun are also part of this appointment – as well as detailed advice on one's own skin type and the corresponding correct sun protection.
With regular screening, the chances are good that skin cancer can be detected at an early stage – and this also increases the chances of successful treatment. It is also important to note that you can visit your dermatologist at any time outside of the biennial appointments if you notice any abnormalities on your skin. The rule of thumb here is: better one appointment too many than one too few! Many dermatologists offer acute consultations where you can quickly get an appointment to have your suspicions clarified.