• Kim Bresseleers

Protect yourself against skin cancer

A study shows that many people do not know what to look for with suspicious spots. In addition, one in three never checks themselves. However, that is very important, because the number of skin cancer patients continues to rise. That is why Euromelanoma, the network of European dermatologists, is launching an awareness campaign: "Protect yourself against skin cancer - look up: if you see the sun, protect your skin; see the full moon, then do your monthly skin check. " It is encouraged to check your skin monthly and to protect you well against the sun. Indeed, there is a direct link between exposure to UV light and skin cancer. By protecting yourself well, skin cancer can therefore largely be prevented.


Birthmarks are light to dark colored spots or elevations on the skin. They are caused by an accumulation of pigment cells in the skin. The color is determined by the concentration of these cells (called melanocytes) and the degree to which they produce pigment. Some birthmarks can develop into melanoma, an aggressive type of skin cancer. They are the least common, but they are responsible for the largest number of deaths from skin cancer. Because melanomas are clearly visible, they can usually be detected in time. If the melanoma is removed at an early stage, it is very likely that you will heal completely. Contacting your doctor or dermatologist in time if a spot changes, is the message!


There are some characteristics that could indicate a malignant birthmark change. ASYMMETRY The birthmark should not change shape and grow asymmetrically, for example, one half will look different than the other half. BORDER The transition from the spot to normal skin is becoming increasingly unclear. The edges of the birthmark also become more irregular. COLOR A birthmark should not change color or color composition. With melanoma we often see different shades and the edges often turn red. DIAMETER When the spot becomes larger than 6 mm in diameter, it is often suspicious. EVOLUTION A rapid (within a few months) change in the aspect of the birthmark. Furthermore, one should always be suspicious when birthmarks start to itch, sting or hurt, show wounds or scabs.


It is very important to regularly check your skin for suspicious spots. Take time to check your entire body at least once a month:

  • Face: including your nose, lips, mouth and on and behind your ears.

  • Scalp: Use the comb to layer your hair. If you don't have a lot of hair, check your entire scalp very carefully.

  • Arms: the front and back of your arms, starting at the armpits and down through the elbows to your hands and between your fingers.

  • Neck and upper body: Also look under and between your breasts.

  • Back: use a hand mirror, start at the neck and shoulders and go down like this.

  • Buttocks and legs: both front and back. Don't forget your foot soles and toes.


Always consult your doctor or dermatologist if you notice a suspicious change in a birthmark, or if you are unsure. It is best to do this as soon as possible, so that the birthmark can be treated immediately if it concerns melanoma.


Unfortunately, everyone is at risk of developing melanoma, but for these people the chance is extra likely:

  • people with light skin or people who burn quickly in the sun

  • people who were seriously burned by the sun as a child

  • sun seekers or people who often have to work in the sun

  • people who often go to a tanning salon/under the sunbed

  • people who are exposed to intensive sun rays for a short period of time

  • persons who have more than 50 birthmarks on their body

  • persons with skin cancer in the family

  • people who have had an organ transplant


The best way to protect your skin is to stay out of the sun regularly and apply sunscreen. Not only on sunny, but also on cloudy days. The sun's harmful UV rays penetrate through the clouds and damage your skin. Apply sunscreen with a high SPF every two hours to be optimally protected.

Read also: "Spring is here: this is how you protect yourself from the sun."

Base on information of Euromelanoma - www.euromelanoma.org - and MRF (Melanoma Research Foundation) - www.melanoma.org

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