Skin cancer: prevention is the key

Skin cancer is relatively common. In Switzerland, over 2,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. Most skin cancer is caused by ultraviolet rays from exposure to sunlight. Many people underestimate the harmful effects of sunlight on the skin: a suntan can come at a high personal cost. To protect your skin, you will need to limit your sunbathing and always use sunscreen. If you have sensitive skin, you should see your GP for regular checkups.

13.02.2017 2 minutes

Early detection can save lives

The sun's rays have positive effects on people: They encourage metabolic processes, lift your mood and help you relax. If, though, you expose yourself to the sun too much, its ultra-violet rays can be damaging in both the short and long term. Today, more and more people are suffering from skin problems brought on by sunlight. Between 50 and 70 percent of skin cancer cases result from exposure to too much sun. Sunlight can cause harm even without sunburn occurring, and this is why we tend to underestimate the sun's potency. Sun creams with a high UVA and UVB protection factor are absolutely essential, as is clothing that protects against ultra-violet rays.

Skin cancer: What exactly is it?

There are different types of skin cancer that can manifest themselves in various forms and to varying degrees of severity. Black melanoma is a particularly dangerous variety of skin cancer.

Further Information (in German)

Are you a high-risk person?

  • You've got very light skin colouring with freckles, light-coloured eyes and blond or red hair.
  • You regularly get sunburn and tan only slightly or not at all.
  • You have already suffered serious sunburn or were exposed to a great deal of sunlight in your childhood or youth.
  • There is a history of melanoma or of other types of skin cancer in your family.
  • You have lots of moles, some of which are bigger than 6 mm in diameter or vary in shape or colour.

People at higher risk of skin cancer should have their skin examined by a specialist every one or two years.

How do you protect yourself against the sun?

Avoid the sun between noon and 2 p.m.

Avoid exposure to the sun when it's at its strongest.

Stay in the shade if you can

Keep children out of direct sunlight as much as possible: 80% of skin damage caused by the sun occurs before the age of 18. Sunglasses, a hat and shirt are the best protection, especially for a child's sensitive skin.

Keep re-applying sun cream

Use sun cream with a very high protection factor (50+) to protect yourself against UVB and UVA rays, remember to re-apply it every two hours, and wear sunglasses and a hat. Further Information on Sun Protection (PDF, 239KB) (in German). 

Although modern sun protection products work instantly, you need to apply them before sunbathing. If you find a mole that has changed in a way that causes you concern, ask a dermatologist about it.

Use the ABCD method to keep a check on your moles

To spot melanoma, it's absolutely vital to examine yourself regularly.

The ABCD method (PDF, 264KB) (in German) will help you to systematically check the appearance of your moles and any changes in them:

  • A: Asymmetrical (deviates from circular or oval form)
  • B: Boundaries (irregular or indistinct)
  • C: Colour (varies in intensity)
  • D: Development (new, and appeared in a short time; needs to be examined by a dermatologist)

Further information

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