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Why check birthmarks?

Article

27. 05. 2014

Our dermatologist explains how important is regular prevention.

Why check your birthmarks?

If discovered in time, up to 90 % of all skin cancers can be cured by surgical removal and careful subsequent monitoring. It is therefore a very good idea to pay utmost attention to prevention itself. One of the most malignant tumors is in fact melanoma. This type of tumor metastasizes very early on and nothing much can be done at later stages. Melanoma occurrences are on the rise, with very young people affected at an increasing rate. Initially, the melanoma stretches the skin and then begins expanding into the lower layers of the skin. Further growth is often vertical in nature and is sometimes accompanied by bleeding.

One of the primary dangers of the melanoma lies in the fact that it spreads rapidly onto other organs such as the bones or the brain. In fact, some 28 patients came to the Melanoma Day we organized last year and our doctor found six suspect birthmarks, one of which was unfortunately at a relatively serious stage.

Who should you go for a check-up?

All of us should go for a preventative check-up once every 1 to 2 years depending on our skin phototype. People with very pale complexion should pay particular attention to their skin, as should people who have spent a lot of time in the sun throughout their lives, especially in childhood. People who got sunburned often and those who have skin cancer “in the family” should also pay greater attention. We should do our best to inspect ourselves and take notice as soon as a new birthmark appears, especially if it rapidly enlarges or is dark in color. As for the birthmarks we have had for years, the suspect ones are often those that differ from the others. Also look out for birthmarks that begin to change size, shape/color or begin to itch.

What does the examination involve?

A check-up at CMC starts with filling out a form used to evaluate the risk factors of malignant melanoma. The doctor then determines the patient's skin phototype and carefully examines manifestations on the skin. Canadian Medical Centre uses a high-quality dermatoscope in its dermatological examinations, allowing us to evaluate even the skin structure of deeper layers of the skin in a high definition. The dermatoscope image of a pigment mark helps doctors make an accurate diagnosis and decide how to proceed further.

Surgical treatment

If we do find a mark with atypical characteristics, it must be removed and examined by a pathologist. Patients pay for this part of the treatment. Surgical procedures are carried out at the new CMC surgical facility in Prague 6 and all marks are histologically examined at one of the best histopathology laboratories in the country. If a malignant melanoma is found, cooperation is subsequently required with other specialists, such as a plastic surgeon or, in later stages of a melanoma, an oncologist.

Thanks to the Melanoma Day, a malignant tumor was found

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