In Germany, more than 200,000 people are diagnosed with white skin cancer, also known as mild skin cancer, each year. It can appear anywhere on the body, but is most common where the sun frequently hits the skin – on the head, neck, ears, hands and arms. White skin cancer has a good chance of being cured and is rarely fatal, but it is still not without risk.
UV Radiation Increases Risk: How Much Is the Sun Too Much?
If people are exposed to the sun for years without protection, that is, without sunscreen or clothing, fair skin cancer can develop. Every minute in the sun, every sunburn, adds up to the course of life. At some point skin cells become overloaded and skin cancer can develop. It takes about 20 to 30 years for a cell to develop into cancer and a relatively large amount of solar radiation. When this point is reached, the entire surface receives this UV energy and cannot be reversed.
A single sunburn can cause up to 100,000 damage to genetic material, which either has to be repaired or the affected cell dies. With greater sun exposure and increasing age, the ability of cells to repair decreases, allowing defective cells to proliferate and degenerate into mild skin cancer.
Actinic keratoses are precursors of spinaloma
About a quarter of non-melanoma skin cancer cases are so-called squamous cell carcinomas or spiniliomas and are thus the second most common form of non-melanoma skin cancer in Germany. Squamous cell carcinoma develops from the squamous layer of the skin.
Initially, precursors, so-called actinic keratoses, usually form. These imperceptible, skin-colored bumps or red patches of flaky skin develop over years of sun exposure. Actinic keratoses become more common with age.
Dermatologists warn that this skin disease is on the rise due to changes in leisure and travel behavior in retirement age and is generally underestimated, as every tenth untreated actinic keratosis develops into a spinioma. Whereas actinic keratosis is limited to the upper layer of the skin, spinalioma tends to spread to the deeper layers.
Squamous cell carcinoma (spinaloma) can form metastasis
Unlike the particularly dangerous black skin cancer (melanoma), spinilioma is usually limited to a small area and only three percent of cases form secondary tumors (metastasis) in other parts of the body, especially lymph nodes.
To prevent squamous cell carcinoma from progressing, suspicious sites should be detected and removed as soon as possible.
Basal cell carcinoma (basalioma): early detection makes surgery easier
About three quarters of mild forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma or basalioma. The most common type of skin cancer arises from the basal cell layer. This form of skin cancer grows slowly and does not metastasize, but it can grow and spread deeply. Therefore, basal cell carcinoma should be removed as soon as possible.
Basal cell carcinoma usually doubles in size within a year, and the larger the tumor, the more doctors have to cut it. A safety margin is important so that no residual tumor remains in the skin. For example, if the tumor is one centimeter in size, at least half a centimeter of healthy tissue should also be removed. Amputation scars are often left behind, which would have been much smaller if the operation had been performed at an early stage.
If the disease is very advanced, tumors can develop into cartilage, muscles, nerves, and even bones. Then, for example, parts of the nose or ears must also be removed.
Every second patient develops another mild skin cancer within three years. So the affected have to go for the follow-up examinations again and again. The stronger the sun exposure of the skin, the more often mild skin cancer recurs.
early detection of white skin cancer
Anyone who notices rough spots that don’t go away on their own and feel like sandpaper should check with a dermatologist as soon as possible to enable early treatment. Dermatologists warn that most patients come to the doctor late, usually a year late. And then treatment is much more complicated and stressful if it is detected early.
Regular checkups are important
Since sun damage does not usually affect just one spot, both basal cell carcinoma and spinal cell carcinoma often reappear in new locations after some time. The only thing that helps against this is a regular initial check-up to find and remove the tumor in good time.
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