Skin cancer early detection: With the ABCDE rule you can detect harmful changes

Skin cancer early detection: With the ABCDE rule you can detect harmful changes

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The most important tool for skin cancer detection is your own observation

The sooner skin cancer is detected, the better the chances of a complete cure. In contrast to many other cancers, the skin cancer disease processes are visible to the naked eye. That is why, besides skin cancer screening, your own observation skills are the best form of monitoring. With the so-called ABCDE rule, modified birthmarks can be assessed by yourself. Experts from the German Cancer Society explain how this works and what you have to consider.

The most important tools for the early detection of skin cancer are owned by everyone: the sense of sight and touch. Because, according to the German Cancer Society, the preliminary stages of skin cancer are visible and sometimes palpable. As a rule of thumb, you can follow the ABCDE rule. This rule can be used to assess the five most important aspects of skin change.

Check it out more often

Experts from the German Cancer Society recommend that you take a closer look at your own body in the mirror without clothing - preferably in daylight. You should pay particular attention to existing moles and new skin changes. The partner can help. Areas that are difficult to view, such as the back and the areas between the toes and the soles of the feet, should also be examined.

At what age should you take a closer look?

"Pigment marks, also called birthmarks or liver spots, are harmless in themselves, they can exist from birth or develop in the course of life", write the experts of the German Cancer Society in a message. But in some cases, the harmless spots can also develop into a malignant skin tumor. Everyone from the age of 35 should therefore take a closer look. In addition, every person aged 35 and over should have a skin cancer screening performed by qualified doctors every two to three years. The costs for this are covered by the statutory health insurance.

When are changes in the skin of concern?

In addition to screening, self-examination is the best method for early detection. But skin cancer can look very different. Therefore, several factors have to be considered for the assessment. Physicians have therefore developed the ABCDE rule for support that should be used in self-examinations. If any of the following apply, a doctor should take a look at the stain. Attention should be paid to:

  • A: The A stands for asymmetry. Skin spots are usually evenly round, oval or elongated. Does the stain have an unusual or asymmetrical shape or has the shape of an existing stain changed?
  • B: The B stands for limitation. Liver spots are usually clearly separated from the rest of the skin. Is the contour of dark skin spots washed out, frayed, jagged, uneven or rough?
  • C.: The C stands for Color. Usually liver and pigment marks are the same color. Does the color mix with pink, gray or black dots within a stain or are there crusty layers on one stain?
  • D: The D stands for diameter. Do the marks have a hemisphere shape or are they larger than five millimeters at their widest point?
  • E: The E stands for evolution. This is the change of a stain over time. Has the mark changed in the past three months?

That should also be considered

If one of these questions is answered with yes, it should be discussed with a doctor. Other possible symptoms of skin cancer include local itching or bleeding from a mole. In case of doubt, a doctor should always be consulted. "It is better to go to the doctor unnecessarily than to be late," is the recommendation of the German Cancer Society. (vb)

Author and source information

Video: ABCDEs of Melanoma (June 2022).