Early Detection is the Best Protection against Skin Cancer

By Dr. Yumei Wu, SinoUnited Health, 2020-03-27 12:33:42

Like all body tissues, the skin is made of tiny ‘building blocks’ called cells. These cells can sometimes become cancerous when they have been damaged, for example, by ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer and melanoma. Melanoma ,which is the most dangerous type of skin tumor,can develop on existing liver spots (nevi) or in previously healthy skin and often metastasize (spread to other parts of the body ) . Although melanoma is an aggressive cancer, it’s possible to have a good outcome if early detection before it grows deep or spreads. Here below are the Q&As provided by  Dr. Yumei Wu, Chief of Dermatology Department, SinoUnited Health


How can we find the skin cancer in early stage ? 

We have to clarify the following questions:


Am I a high risk patient?

  • If you answer "YES" to any of the questions, ask your dermatologist!
  • Are you a light skin type that is sensitive to the sun?
  • Do you have a lot of pigmentation marks?( (more than 50)?
  • Do you have large congenital pigmentation marks?  (more than 2 inches in diameter)?
  • Do you have atypical birthmarks or those that have recently changed?
  • Did you have sunburn as a child or teenager?
  • Have there been cases of skin cancer in your family?
  • Have you already developed skin cancer yourself?
  •  Are you regularly exposed to strong sunlight?
  • Have you noticed any new moles on your body?
  • What are typical alarms of skin cancer?
  • Changes in moles can be an indication of skin cancer. Therefore, observe your moles for the following criteria:
  • Color changes (e.g. lighter, darker, new colors)
  • Change in size or thickness
  • changes in the environment of moles (e.g. redness, whitening, swelling)
  • New birthmarks
  • Bleeding moles


What can I do to reduce my risk?

Here are some useful tips to help reduce your and your children’s risk of developing skin cancer:

  • Avoid being in direct sunlight between 11am-3pm
  • Use a sunscreen product that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays and has a SPF of at least 30
  • Reapply sunscreen regularly throughout the day remembering to concentrate on areas such as ears, neck, shoulders and tops of your feet
  • Wear closely woven fabrics such as cotton that prevent UV light from coming through
  • Make sure to put a wide-brimmed hat on your child if taking them out in the sun
  • Don’t use sunbeds
  • Check your skin every couple of months looking for changes in existing moles or signs of new moles/pigmented lesions appearing
  • When checking your child’s body for moles, pay attention to commonly overlooked areas such as the scalp, ears, back, spaces between toes and their lower back


How can I examine moles myself?

Regularly examine your moles and any wounds that do not heal over a period of four weeks. Pay attention to changes using the ABCDE rule:

A = Asymmetry: uneven, asymmetric shape

B = Limitation: irregular edges

C = Coloration: different colors

D = Diameter: larger than 5 mm

E = Development: Change in the last three months

If your skin changes, make an appointment with a dermatologist!


.How does early detection of skin cancer go in clinic  ?

Skin Cancer Screening with Total Body Mapping and Digital Dermoscopy

Total Body Mapping

Imagine your skin as a landscape. Total Body Mapping captures the entire skin surface long-term. We use a high-tech system to create a map of your moles (“body map”) and take photographs of your body systematically – from head to toe and from all sides – within a few minutes.

The special software allows us to obtain a full evaluation of new or changed lesions instantly during your check-up.

Digital Dermoscopy

In addition, conspicuous moles are also dermatoscopically documented. Using a special video epiluminescence microscope we create highly magnified images of your moles, which clearly show the mole structure. This way, one can see whether the mole is suspicious or not.

You will be able to observe the absolutely pain-free examination on the screen. 

Skin cancer is curable if it is detected early enough. Examine moles by self and regular Skin Cancer Screening in clinic ensure that abnormal growths are detected before they spread and become hard to treat..In these way, even small changes in the skin and each individual mole and new birthmarks can be detected as early as possible. The earlier skin cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better.

[Images via SinoUnited Health]