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screening-study-finds-skin-cancerDoes Skin Cancer Screening Save Lives?

The Germans have been trying to figure that out through a recent study.  The new study has shown that doctors discover a high number of malignant skin cancer tumors when people are offered a state-wide screening for skin cancer.  According to their statistics, out of 116 people screened, typically five of them need biopsies and one is found with a malignant tumor.  The United States has actually offered government-supported skin cancer screenings to prevent skin cancer in 2009.  But after many screenings, the U.S. Preventative Task Force determined that there was not enough evidence to encourage full body screenings.  The group did not say, however, that we should not get screened for skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Screening

The German study took place between the year 2003-2004 and over 360,000 people over 20 years old were screened for skin cancer by specially trained doctors.  When all was said and done, 16,000 had biopsies, which breaks down to one for every 23 screened person.  And doctors revealed 3,100 malignant tumors from the biopsies performed. 

Does Skin Cancer Screening Help?

According to the United States National Cancer Institute, two million Americans are treated for basal cell and squamous cancers each year.  And the melanomas, the most dangerous type will strike over 76,000 people in 2012 with 9,000 of those people dying from it, according to the American Cancer Society. 

Symptoms of Skin Cancer

Be aware that skin cancer forms on sun exposed areas, such as the scalp, lips, face, neck, ears, arms, chest, hand and even legs.  However, skin cancer can also how up on areas that you wouldn't think, including the genital area, palms, beneath fingernails between the toes or under toenails. Here are some signs and symptoms of skin cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma shows in sun-exposed body areas, such as your scalp, ears and face, and looks like:
  • A waxy or pearly bump.
  • A flat, yet flesh-hued or brown lesion, that looks like a scar.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma 

This type of skin cancer shows on your lips, hands, face or ears and may appear as:

  • A red, yet firm, pimple like spot.
  • A crusted, scaly lesion that is flat.


This type of cancer can appear anywhere on your body, yet most appear on your torso, neck or head if for men.  Women see it on the lower part of their legs.  In those with darker skin melanoma can appear on the soles of the feet, palms, or beneath toenails and fingernails.  Melanoma signs include"

  • A larger spot that is brownish and has darker speckles
  • A mole that changes color, becomes larger or bleeds.
  • A smaller spot with a border that is irregular and has parts that are white, blue, blue-black or red.
  • Darker spots on the soles of your feet, palms, toes or fingertips.  Even spots on your mouth, vagina or anus and nose are suspect.

A good OBGYN will screen you for skin cancer when you go in for your annual checkup.  And if they do not offer, ask them to look.  And don't be afraid to see a dermatologist if there is any question about skin cancer.

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