What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancers and presents in several ways:
- Non-melanomas are the most common form of skin cancer, and usually develop in the upper layers of the skin, and grow quite slowly. The first signs of non-melanoma cancers are often patches or lesions on the skin that refuse to heal, even after a few weeks. There are two types of non-melanoma cancers: basal cell and squamous cell, which start in either the top or bottom layers of the skin.
- Melanomas are less common, but once established can spread quite quickly to other organs in the body. Melanomas usually present on the body as new moles, or with changes to the colour, shape and texture of an existing mole. They are often accompanied by itching and/or bleeding, and the most common areas in which they appear are the back, legs, face and arms.
If at any time you feel concerned or you see the lesion on your skin is changing in thickness, size, color, fluid content, or bleeding, we recommend a visit to your doctor.
It’s important to be aware of what to look out for and your personal level of risk, and you can easily do this by using SkinVision. Please note that although scientifically proven, SkinVision should not replace visits to your doctor.
The causes and treatment of melanoma skin cancer
Melanomas are slightly more commonly diagnosed in men rather than women, and are usually the result of over-exposure to UV (ultraviolet) light from the sun, sunbeds or sunlamps. Your risk of developing melanomas is slightly higher if:
- there is a family history of skin cancer
- you have pale skin that burns easily
- you have a large number of moles and freckles on your body
The good news is that if detected early enough, most forms of skin cancer can be successfully treated. The main treatments for both types of melanoma are surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, with a complete cure in the majority of cases if treated promptly.
How to stay safe
Skin cancer can be prevented by taking a few simple precautions to reduce your exposure to UV light:
- Stay covered in the sun where possible (even when swimming), and consider wearing a hat, sunglasses or staying in the shade.
- Be UV alert. Exposure to UV radiation and sunlight can happen even on days that are overcast or cloudy.
- Avoid the use of sunbeds or solariums, which emit the same harmful rays as real sunlight.
- Use sunscreen with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF 30+), reapplying regularly while exposed to sunlight.
- Become familiar with the appearance of your skin and changes to appearance over time by using SkinVision to track changes to your areas of concern.
- If you have an immediate cause for concern, we recommend visiting your doctor.