World Cancer Day 2024

February the 4th is World Cancer Day 2024. We wanted to use this important day to raise awareness of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the UK.

There two main types: malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Here is some useful information to help make you aware of the symptoms of skin cancer.

Risk Factors

According to Cancer Research, a significant risk factor for developing skin cancer is overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Almost 9 out of 10 skin cancer cases in the UK are caused by UV radiation from the sun and sunbeds. It damages the DNA in our skin cells and this damage can build up over time and lead to skin cancer. 

Age is another key risk factor with the majority of skin cancer cases occurring in those who are middle aged or elderly.

All skin types are at risk of skin cancer. But skin cancer is more common in fair-skinned people, who tend to burn easily or go red or freckle in the sun and whose skin does not tan. This is because they have less melanin. This is the protective layer in the skin.

Melanoma

Melanoma is the 5th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for around 4% of all new cancer cases. Despite being less common than other forms of skin cancer, melanomas account for more cancer deaths than all other skin cancers combined. They can develop from existing moles, but more frequently appear as new marks on the skin.

Rates of malignant melanoma in the UK have risen faster than any other common cancer. It has never been more important to know what to look out for.

How to spot Melanoma

The ABCDE Melanoma Rule is an easy-to-remember system for determining whether a mole or growth may be melanoma.

Melanoma, skin cancer
ABCDE Melanoma Rule

ASYMMERTY - Melanoma is often asymmetrical, which means the shape isn’t uniform. Non-cancerous moles are typically uniform and symmetrical in shape.

BORDER - Melanoma often has borders that aren’t well defined or are irregular in shape, whereas non-cancerous moles usually have smooth, well-defined borders.

COLOUR - Melanoma lesions are often more than one colour or shade such as shades of tan, brown, or black, or areas of white, red, or blue. Moles that are benign are typically one colour.

DIAMETER -  Melanoma growths are normally larger than 6mm in diameter, roughly the diameter of a pencil.

EVOLUTION - Melanoma will often change characteristics, such as size, shape or colour. Unlike most benign moles, melanoma tends to change over time. If you have a mole or skin growth, watch it for signs of changes.

 

If you notice any of the ABCDE’s of melanoma, ensure you make an appointment with a GP, a dermatologist, or skin cancer specialist.

Non-melanoma skin cancers

Non-melanoma refers to all other types of skin cancer that are not melanoma. These types of skin cancers have a high survival rate when they are detected early.

Several types of skin cancer fall within the broader category of non-melanoma skin cancer, with the most common types being basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common, but squamous cell carcinoma is the more dangerous as it is the more likely of the two to spread to other parts of the body.

Non-melanoma skin cancers usually develop in the outermost layer of skin (epidermis), especially in areas subjected to prolonged UV ray exposure such as the face, neck, and arms.

Treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer is completely successful in approximately 90% of cases.

How to spot non-melanoma skin cancers

The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or discoloured patch on the skin that persists after a few weeks and slowly progresses over months or sometimes years.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) appears as a firm pink lump and may have a flat, scaly and crusted surface. The lump is often tender to touch, bleeds easily and may develop into an ulcer.

 

 

 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) usually appears as a small red or pink lump, although it can be pearly-white or ‘waxy’ looking. It can also look like a red, scaly patch. The lump slowly grows and may become crusty, bleed or develop into a painless ulcer.

If you develop a lump, lesion or skin discolouration that hasn’t healed after 4 weeks, speak to your GP. While it is unlikely to be cancer, it is best to be sure.

La Belle Forme Skin Cancer Clinic

Our Mole Clinic provides you with an assessment of moles and pigmented lesions you may be concerned about.

You can book a consultation at La Belle Forme with an experienced consultant plastic surgeon or dermatologist with specialist training in skin cancer det3ection and treatment.