Little liver spots - more aggressive skin cancer

Even people with little pigmented spots are at risk of melanoma

A normal liver spot or skin cancer? © Phanuwat Nandee / thinkstock
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Creeping danger: Especially people with few liver spots often get particularly aggressive skin cancer, as a study shows now. So far, they have been considered less vulnerable, but this proves to be false on the whole. Researchers therefore warn that they weigh in false safety. Even people with few pigment spots should therefore go for skin cancer screening.

So far it seemed clear: People with very fair skin, redheads and people with more than 50 liver spots have an increased risk of developing melanoma. They usually get the dangerous skin cancer in younger age than darker-skinned peers. The cause of the cancer is primarily UV damage to the skin, for example due to sunburns.

Aggressive and thicker melanomas

But even for people with only a few liver spots, there is no all-clear - on the contrary. Caroline Kim of Harvard Medical School, Boston, evaluated the medical records of 281 melanoma patients treated in a Boston clinic in 2013 and 2014 for her study. 89 of these patients had more than 50 liver spots, the remaining 192 had less than 50.

To the surprise of the dermatologist, the patients with the few liver spots had even more aggressive melanomas than those with many pigmentary disorders. The skin cancer lesions were usually thicker, growing faster and spreading more widely, as the researcher reports at the summer session of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Biological differences

The more aggressive melanoma in people with few liver spots could, in the opinion of the researcher, have two reasons: First, these people are more likely to be more likely to be safe and therefore late to go to the doctor. Because they were previously considered less endangered, they may also be less likely to use skin cancer screening services. display

On the other hand, there are also biological reasons: "We already know that melanomas are not all genetically identical, " says Kim. "It may well be that there are different ways in which the melanoma develops in these two groups of patients." Further investigations must now clarify exactly where these differences lie.

Note early warning signs

"This result reminds us that everyone must be vigilant against skin cancer, whether you have few or many liver spots, " says Kim. "Therefore, examine your skin regularly for new or suspicious areas and in case of doubt consult the dermatologist." The better the chances of a cure for skin cancer, the sooner he or she is is recognized. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the warning signs of the skin, the dermatologist said.

As early warning signs there are, among other things, pigment spots, the border of which is irregular or out of focus. In addition, spots that are very asymmetrical or unevenly colored. Even liver spots that are larger than six millimeters or change in size, shape and color over time are suspicious. As a reminder of these signs one also speaks of the ABCDE rule asymmetry, limitation, coloring, diameter and development.

(American Academy of Dermatology, 24.08.2015 - NPO)