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How to detect skin cancer


Sun protection by preventing sunburn and excessive tanning play very important roles in preventing skin cancer and is the true secret to having fabulously youthful skin. What’s also really important though is to know what to look for on your skin so as to attain early treatment.

Skin cancer is sky-rocketing with national statistics for the prevalence of melanoma being the 5th most common cancer in the U.K with 13, 348 new cases reported in 2011 and women being more prone to developing this than men (Cancer research U.K. Statistics). There were also 102, 6028 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer i.e. basal cell, squamous cell carcinoma etc. reported in 2011.

It’s quite common to notice new growths or changes on our skin during the summer months with our skin on display. We see more skin cancer referrals in hospitals as a result during this time period.

We recommend people check for signs of skin cancer on a monthly basis, yet an astounding 96 per cent of people fail to do this. According to a recent British Association of Dermatologists U.K. survey of more than a thousand Britons as much as 40 per cent said they never check themselves. Most people i.e. 77 per cent would not recognise signs of a melanoma.

With the above in mind and summer now in full swing I would like to discuss the tell tale signs you should be wary of when you look at your skin or someone else’s skin this summer:

  1. Any lesion on the skin, which is new and has not spontaneously resolved over a period of 3 months or more needs to have a name put to it. Most blemishes or spots spontaneously resolve over 3 months. If it’s not going away don’t ignore it and please seek advice from your GP or see a Dermatologist.
  2. A mole may have been there for years. However if it is changing in:
    A= Asymmetry
    B=Border irregularity
    C= Colour change or developing different tones of colour within the mole
    D= Diameter change i.e. rapid growth of the mole over a short period of time i.e. doubling of the moles size over 3-4 months or even a gradual increase in size of a mole over a long period of time without your body size or shape changing.
    E= Evolving mole i.e. a mole that’s changing with no specific features but doesn’t quite look right!
An irregularly shaped and irregularly pigmented mole which displays signs of ABCD and had been a changing or evolving mole

An irregularly shaped and irregularly pigmented mole which displays signs of ABCD and had been a changing or evolving mole

3. Any lesion on your skin, which bleeds spontaneously i.e. without associated trauma or displays crusting and non-healing may be a sign of skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancer particularly   basal cell carcinoma or rodent ulcers grow slowly where as squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma often grow at a faster rate. Most people attend skin cancer clinics with a crusting, bleeding non-healing lesion with variable rates of growth often as they have found blood on clothes or bed-clothes.

With all this information to hand if you do see a concerning lesion on yourself or on someone else and be a skin cancer champion this summer and check in with your doctor… you never know you could just save someone’s life!

Help us help you detect skin cancer sooner.

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