Around 145,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK. The approximate number of people who develop melanoma (malignant melanoma) each year is 15,000. Around 130,000 people are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer. The incidence rates for both types of skin cancer have been increasing in recent years. Excessive exposure to sun and sunburns, especially during childhood, are the main causes for the development of this disease.
Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
This term refers to certain types of skin tumours which are usually white to reddish in colour, although they can sometimes be brownish. Besides, they are often rough and scaly on the skin surface or have the shape of a mole. They are primarily caused by sun exposure. The most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. There are also precancerous lesions called actinic keratoses (also known as solar keratoses) and Bowen‘s disease (non-invasive, squamous cell carcinoma in situ).
Malignant melanoma is a type of skin tumour caused by cancerous, pigment-producing cells (melanocytes). It develops from pigmented moles, but may also appear very suddenly on skin that has hitherto been completely unremarkable. Malignant melanomas are often dark or black, although they can sometimes be pink (amelanotic melanoma). If a melanoma is detected early, there are good chances of a lasting cure. However, once it has progressed to an advanced stage, the therapeutic possibilities are limited, and the disease may become life-threatening.
That is why preventive healthcare and early detection are of vital importance.
Recognising Signs of Skin Cancer
The ABCDE rule covers changes that might indicate a melanoma. This can help you to self-examine.
Asymmetry – one half of the mole doesn’t match the other;
Border – the edges may be irregular;
Colour – uneven colour;
Diameter – most melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter;
Evolving – when a mole starts to change. Any change – in size, shape, colour, elevation, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting – can be suspicious.
If you are worried about moles or lesions, seek medical advice as soon as possible.
You can book a consultation at the Skin Inspection Clinic here