MUDr. Hatiarová Simoneta, dermatologist, PRO SANUS
Studies have confirmed a connection between the amount of ultra-violet radiation during a person’s life and their skin phototype. People with phototype I – II (fair or red hair, light-colored eyes and fair skin) are definitely more prone to melanoma. The important factor is the overall amount of radiation in life, together with number of sunburns since early childhood. Just 3 sunburns increase melanoma risk twice among women and 7 times among men. It is fair to say that changes in lifestyle with more holidays taken abroad together with deteriorated condition of the ozone layer contribute indirectly to the increased incidence of skin cancer.
Recently, D vitamin levels are also considered important; we get D vitamin from the sun and in the same time it protects us from skin cancer. For example, northern countries are finding a rise in this disease together with very low levels of D vitamin in the population. On the other hand, it needs to be pointed out that 10 minutes in the sun in the summer period is enough for sufficient daily saturation.
Another important factor is permanent mechanical irritation and lesions on the mole. This is shown in the fact that melanoma often occurs in places hidden from the sun.
What are the warning signals and when to see a dermatologist?
It is important to learn to check your skin yourself regularly, once a month. If you spot a mole you did not see before or one you want to keep an eye on, you can take a picture of it.
You need to watch for these basic signs:
A – Asymmetry: the mole’s shape is not symmetric (if you imagine a line going through the middle of the mole and the halves are different, it means that the mole is asymmetric);
B – Border: the mole should have distinct edges. Ragged or blurred edges mean there is a risk;
C – Color: a dangerous mole is strongly pigmented, almost black; or the pigmentation is irregular or with multiple shades;
D – Diameter: moles bigger than 6mm (0.24in) are considered dangerous;
E – Evolving (changing or elevated): if a mole is developing, changing, growing, with elevations or little bumps, it is considered a warning sign.
You should see a dermatologist if:
What to expect from a visit to a dermatologist and is it necessary for children as well?
Melanoma risk is very low in children. Children do not have a lot of moles; their number increases with age. Situation is different congenital moles where regular check-ups are required.
For people with multiple moles a preventative examination, which means checking of the whole skin surface by a physician, is recommended once year.