Skin cancer screening

The world’s most common cancer is skin cancer. Based on current data from the cancer registry of Schleswig-Holstein from 2012, for the first time about 264,000 people in this country were affected–tendency rising.

If detected early, skin cancer is almost 100% curable. Here the skin cancer screening (“skin cancer screening”) plays an essential role. The aim of this examination is to detect skin cancer at an early stage in order to treat him gently. Prevention measures are also discussed during the screening. This should perspectively reduce the incidence of skin cancer.

Skin cancer develops primarily –  but not exclusively – on sun-exposed skin. Therefore it is important to inspect thoroughly all the skin during the skin cancer examination.

Screenings are mainly aimed at healthy people.

During the screening we examine the skin on the three forms of skin cancer as well as on other abnormalities: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma (“white skin cancer”) and malignant melanoma (“black skin cancer”).

Most insured patients have since 2008 every 2 years the right to get the skin cancer screening. This usually applies from the age of 35. Some health insurance companies allow this as early as the 15th or 18th year, sometimes after signing a contract (eg. Barmer GEK, Bosch BKK, Hanseatische Krankenkasse, Techniker Krankenkasse).

You can perform a skin cancer screening more frequently than every 2 years. The cost of this will not be covered in this case by the public health insurance. The private health insurance companies cover these expenses as often as this is necessary.

Someone who has numerous benign moles, carries a higher risk for the development of skin cancer.

For the examination the trained dermatological view is applied. A useful and often necessary complement to this is the additional use of dermatoskopes or light microscopes. The dermoscopy of skin lesions helps to detect and differentiate suspect lesions more easily on the basis of specific criteria.

In medical oncology guidelines on the prevention of skin cancer in January 2014, the significance of dermoscopy is emphasized in these words: “The dermoscopy should be carried out at the suspected areas to improve clinical diagnosis of melanocytic lesions.”

The reflected light microscopy is an additional service that is accepted fully by private health insurance. The statutory health insurance does not pay for this additional service but for a very few exceptions.

Dermatoscopes are no lighted magnifying glasses, they are rather precision instruments that fundamentally improve the diagnosis of pigmented and non pigmented skin lesions.

Many patients can be spared unnecessary surgery because a malignancy can be excluded by dermoscopy 10 to 50 times more likely than by the visual control of suspected areas.

Digital video documentation

On request, the moles can be recorded dermatoscopically with a special camera, analyzed on screen and stored digitally. In a follow-up examination after 6, 12 or 18 months, new recordings and the analysis of possible changes take place. This additional service is unfortunately also not provided by statutory health insurance, but is almost always paid by private health insurance.

Therapeutic measures

The therapeutic measures in case of skin cancer depends on the type and extent of the tumor. After an enlightening discussion with the parties concerned, the treatment is performed with various modern methods. For some forms of white skin cancer and certain precursors of it non-invasive methods can be used, such as photodynamic therapy (PDT) or the treatment of the area with special creams.