SKIN CANCER IS THE MOST COMMON CANCER IN THE UK.
Caught early, it is easily treated. Caught late, it can kill. Screening saves lives.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is our most common cancer. Detected early it is easily removed, but caught late it can kill. Most of us face around a one in ten chance of a skin cancer, so regular skin cancer checks make sense.
Melanoma skin cancer is the most dangerous type. Melanoma usually appears as a mole - perhaps an unusual looking mole, or a new mole, or a changing mole or an itchy mole.
Melanoma - What You Need To Know
- Melanoma rates in Great Britain have risen faster over the last thirty years than any of the current top ten cancers.
- Melanoma is disproportionately high - now the second most common cancer - in younger adults.
- Melanoma is more common in people from the most affluent areas.
- Melanoma is almost twice as common in young women as in young men, but more men die from it - because more women have their moles checked.
Skin cancer - Are You At Higher Risk
You are up to 10 times more likely to have a melanoma if you have:
- a lot of moles or unusually shaped or large moles.
- used sunbeds.
- had sunburn.
What You Need To Do
All adults should have a full body MOLECheck at least once. Any adults at higher risk should have a full body MOLECheck each year. Any adults with lots of moles or those who find it difficult to regularly monitor their own moles for new or changing moles should also have MOLEMap each year.
Skin Cancer Types & Pictures
Melanoma is the least common but most serious type of skin cancer.
It usually appears as an abnormal or new or changing mole. It can appear anywhere on the body, but most often on the back, legs, arms and face. Most melanomas have an irregular shape and more than one colour.
In the UK around 11,100 cases of melanoma each year are linked to excessive exposure to sunlight and use of sunbeds.
Melanoma can be fatal if found late but is easily treated if found early.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) or Bowen's disease accounts for 20% of skin cancers and is usually easily treated.
The main sign is a red, scaly patch on the skin that is 1-3 cm in diameter and which may or may not be itchy. The affected skin can be red and sore and may bleed and scab.
Bowen's disease can appear anywhere on the skin, especially the trunk, arms or legs.
It's important to get a proper diagnosis, as SCC or Bowen's disease can look like benign conditions such as psoriasis or eczema.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) accounts for 75% of skin cancers and is also easily treated.
It usually appears as a red or pink lump, although it can be pearly-white or 'waxy' looking and may contain visible blood vessels. The discoloured patch of skin is flat and scaly and can have either a flesh-coloured or brown appearance.
BCCs can develop anywhere on the body, but usually appear on parts of the body that have been exposed to the sun. Lumps usually develop on the face, ears and neck, while the discoloured skin patches usually develop on the chest and back.
Actinic Keratosis (a pre-cancerous skin lesion)
Actinic keratoses, also known as solar keratoses, are dry scaly patches of skin caused by damage from many years of sun exposure. Actinic keratoses only tend to be seen in people over the age of 40.
The patches are usually harmless but can develop into Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
They are pink, red or brown in colour and range in width from 0.5 to 3cm. Sometimes the skin can become very thick over them and occasionally they can look like horns or spikes.
They are most commonly found on the face, neck, forearms and backs of hands (in men) on the rims of the ears and bald scalps (in women) on the legs below the knees.
Actinic keratoses are most commonly seen in fair-skinned people, especially those with blue eyes, red hair, freckles and a tendency to burn in the sun. People who have lived or worked abroad in a sunny place or who have worked outdoors or enjoy outdoor hobbies are most at risk.