Skin | Skin cancer prevention

Skin cancer prevention

Skin cancer is the growth of malignant skin tumours.

In an international comparison, Switzerland has one of the highest rates of new skin cancer diseases.

Every year, approximately 15,000 people in Switzerland are diagnosed with skin cancer, more than 3,000 of them in the greater Zurich area. This means that the number of skin cancer patients has doubled in the last 20 years.

Dr. Inja Allemann combines both: she is the only doctor in Switzerland with a double board certification in dermatology and plastic surgery. Accordingly, Dr. Allemann is uniquely positioned as a dermatologist not only to make the right diagnosis and find the appropriate therapeutic approach, but also to take care of you professionally, competently and actively as a plastic reconstructive surgeon during surgery and follow-up.


schulter von weisser frau von hinten mit sommersprossen

Malignant skin tumors / skin cancer

The three most common types of skin cancer are:

  • Melanoma (black skin cancer)
  • Squamous cell carcinoma/spindle cell carcinoma (white skin cancer/ non melanoma skin cancer)
  • Basal cell carcinoma (white skin cancer/ non melanoma skin cancer)


Melanoma is the most dangerous and aggressive of all skin cancers. The malignant cells multiply and in advanced cases develop metastases in various organs. Patients in Switzerland are particularly affected: Every year roughly 2500 people get diagnosed with a malignant melanoma. Almost one third of the patients are under the age of 50 at the time of diagnosis.
With the help of regular preventive examinations and skin checks, melanoma can be diagnosed early, which has a lasting positive effect on the prognosis and chances of recovery.

In women, melanoma occurs primarily on the lower legs, in men on the back. Causes for melanoma are multifactorial. The most common cause is strong UV exposure, with repetitive sunburns, especially in childhood – the skin does not forget a ray of sunlight. But a genetic predisposition can also be one of the reasons.
Since every third melanoma develops from a birthmark, a regular examination of moles is particularly important. The principle here is: the more birthmarks you have, the higher the risk of melanoma.

There are different types of melanoma that can differ greatly in their appearance. If you notice the following change(s), you should consult a dermatologist:

  • Change in the colour of the birthmark, in particular darker colours or an irregular pattern
  • Growth of the birthmark (>5 mm)
  • Different appearance in contrast to other moles (ugly duckling sign)
  • Spontaneous bleeding or itching of the birthmark

If there is a clinical suspicion of a melanoma, it is surgically removed and the tissue is examined microscopically and with special staining by a specialist. If the diagnosis of melanoma is confirmed, further therapy follows the Swiss guidelines for the treatment of melanoma. Melanoma patients are often treated in an interdisciplinary manner by a team of specialized doctors consisting of dermatologists, oncologists, radiologists, radiooncologists and surgeons, and therapy decisions are made jointly within the framework of a tumour board. Dr. Allemann and her double board certification in dermatology and plastic surgery combine two important milestones on the way to your recovery.

Non-melanoma skin cancer

Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common skin cancer and includes spindle cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. Both types typically occur at an advanced age, after the skin has been damaged by UV radiation for many years. According to this, in most cases areas affected are those particularly exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, bald scalp, but also the back of the hands and forearms. Non-melanoma skin cancer also frequently occurs on the nose. The tumours can look very different, but new, growing skin changes or bleeding wounds without trauma are always suspicious and should be shown to the dermatologist.

Spindle cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is a malignant tumour that grows destructively and can also metastasize. It usually occurs at an average age of 70 years and in sun-damaged skin. Men are affected twice as often as women and 90% of tumours occur in the head area, such as on the bald scalp, forehead or lower lip.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma also occurs at an advanced age on sun-damaged skin. Typically from the age of 60 and up to 80% in the head and neck area. Of all skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma is the least dangerous because it usually grows slowly and rarely metastasizes.


If skin cancer is detected early, this can be decisive for a good prognosis and a successful therapy. The prevention of skin cancer consists of a precise and conscientious examination of the patient’s skin and a detailed assessment of skin changes using a reflected light microscope. Particular attention is paid to pigmented skin lesions and birthmarks, as these can hide a melanoma. Depending on the extent, the examination takes about 15 minutes.

We recommend every patient to have the skin inspected by a dermatologist once a year with a dermatoscopic full-body examination. However, the following patients have a special risk of skin cancer and should therefore be examined regularly:

  • Light skin type (pale skin, blonde/red hair, blue eyes)
  • Many moles
  • Repeated sunburn in childhood or adolescence
  • Skin cancer in the family
  • Heavily sun-damaged skin
  • Taking immunosuppressive therapy

Make an appointment today to have your skin professionally examined.

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