IGeL skin screening: Chargeable extras
When it comes to skin cancer screening, doctors offer many extras that patients have to pay for themselves. We will check which ones are worthwhile for you
What is being done there?
From the age of 35 you can have your skin checked for cancer every two years at health insurance costs. Dermatologists or general practitioners with additional training look for abnormalities with the naked eye.
Dermatologists offer the following extras: Observation of conspicuous areas with a reflected light microscope (dermatoscope), a particularly powerful magnifying glass. The recordings are saved for video documentation in order to be able to better assess how abnormalities develop over time.
A precautionary examination outside of every two years and a check before the age of 35 must usually be paid for yourself.
Conspicuous pigment marks are cut out, the mini-procedure is usually carried out on an outpatient basis and involves hardly any risks.
- The investigation is harmless. A minor intervention is only necessary if a noticeable mark on the skin is discovered.
- The reflected light microscope improves the detection rate of black skin cancer from 76 to 92 percent, according to a recent study review.
- Video documentation, more closely meshed checks and their start before the age of 35 increase the chance of early detection - in theory. Professor Christoffer Gebhardt, Head of the Skin Tumor Center at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf: "These measures are especially recommended for people at increased risk." Risk factors are light-colored or sun-sensitive skin, severe sunburn at a young age, previous skin cancer, cases of first-degree relatives and more than 50 pigment marks.
- Apart from reflected light microscopy, people without an increased risk use additional examinations at best to a minor extent. There is no evidence that these offers reduce the number of skin cancer deaths.
- Most of the excised marks turn out to be cancer-free, so they are not cancerous. If a patient makes use of many additional services, this could increase the number of unnecessary operations.
- Because people feel in a false sense of security because of the offers, they may sunbathe more carefree.
If you want to have your skin examined more frequently as a precautionary measure without a specific reason, you have to pay around 40 euros, for video documentation at least 60 euros. Dermatologists charge 30 euros and more for the use of the reflected light microscope.
Some use it as standard for every examination and waive the fee or settle it with the health insurance fund as a diagnostic service when investigating suspicious areas. Ask your health insurance company beforehand which additional services it will cover.
The additional payment for the reflected light microscope is worthwhile, all other extras are rather questionable. People at increased risk are most likely to benefit. If you observe abnormalities on the skin yourself, the health insurance company pays for a clarification anyway. Therefore, always consult a doctor, advises Professor Steffen Emmert, director of the dermatological University Clinic Rostock.