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Skin Cancer Frequently Asked Questions |  Cancer Foundation

Skin Cancer Frequently Asked Questions | Cancer Foundation

What is a birthmark and can you remove it yourself? Karina Schultz answers these and other frequently asked questions by our visitors here. She is a doctor and specialist in dermatology at Karolinska Hospital.

Karina Schultz works as a dermatologist at Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm. Photo: Sana Percival

What is a birthmark?

Birthmark refers to benign changes in the skin that appear mostly during childhood and adolescence.

You can get new birthmarks even in adulthood, but not often.

Birthmarks are called nevus in Latin and are made up of melanocytes (pigment-forming cells in the skin).

What is the difference between birthmark and liver spots?

Birthmarks mostly appear during childhood and adolescence and are mostly composed of melanocytes (pigment-forming cells in the skin).

The liver spot can have different meanings, and it is usually understood that pigment spots in the skin (lentigo solaris) have arisen from age and exposure to sunlight. Then there is no increased number of melanocytes, but only increased production of pigment that leads to the appearance of spots.

Can you remove a birthmark yourself?

You should not remove birthmarks for various reasons. For example, it may be difficult to assess any future suspicions, if the mark does not remain or if it returns in a scar.

How do you know if a birthmark is dangerous?

To find out if a birthmark is dangerous, you need to examine it with a dermatoscope, and if in doubt, surgically remove the birthmark and send it for a histological examination.

Why is it called a birthmark?

It is called a nevus because some of the signs appear in early childhood or are congenital.

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When should I be concerned about a birthmark?

If you get a new tag on your skin or if an existing tag grows or changes in any way.

What do I do if I am worried about a birthmark?

In the first instance, you should contact your general practitioner at the health centre.

Read more about skin cancer

If you have other questions

If you have further questions about skin cancer or other forms of cancer, you are welcome to contact our support line.

The line is made up of licensed healthcare professionals with extensive experience caring for cancer patients. Call 010-199 10 10 or email Cancer Line.

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Make an appointment with the health center if you discover a new spot on the skin or a spot that has become larger and may have changed color or shape as well. Skin patches that itch or are sore should also be examined by a doctor.

Find a care center at 1177.se

Here you will find more questions asked by our visitors on Cancer Line: