Skin cancer, which refers to the abnormal growth of cells on the outer layer of skin, is one of the most common forms of cancer, not just in the UK but also worldwide. It primarily develops on skin most exposed to the sun, making it vital to check your skin after spending lengthy time outdoors for any suspicious changes. However, it can be hard to identify if you’re unsure what exactly to look out for.
Skin is the largest organ of the body made up of water, proteins, fats and minerals that serve as a protective shield from germs, infection, and injury.
Skin is also largely sensitive and requires a lot of looking after to ensure it’s healthy and in good working order to protect the body; most importantly from the sun’s harmful Ultraviolet Radiation (UV).
Anyone can develop skin cancer, but some people can be more at risk, such as those with much fairer skin who burn easier.
However, an early diagnosis will give you the greatest chance of successful cancer treatment.
And the fastest way to seek diagnosis is if you can spot the signs yourself, which is why it’s crucial to know exactly what skin cancer can look like.
Here are the common symptoms of different types of skin cancer.
What does skin cancer look like?
Skin cancer can take many forms on the body as the cancers vary by type. It can look shiny pink and waxy, rough and crusty, or discoloured and lumpy; it all depends on the variation.
And signs of melanoma, which can occur in skin that hasn’t suffered sun exposure, include:
A large discoloured spot with darker speckles
A mole that changes in colour, size, feel or if it bleeds
A small lesion with an irregular border and portions that appear red, pink, white, blue or blue-black
A painful lesion that itches or burns
So if you’re experiencing any new, itchy, discoloured patches on your skin, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor for a check, just to be safe.
How to prevent skin cancer from developing
Most skin cancers are largely preventable, and there are ample effective ways to reduce your chances of developing one.
It’s strongly advised to wear sunscreen all year round with a high SPF, paying close attention to the face, tops of shoulders, ears, hands and arms.
Another crucial prevention tips are to avoid strong sunlight during the middle of the day and steer clear of the tanning beds.
Tanning beds typically give out even greater doses of UV rays than what you’d get from the sun, posing one of the largest risks of skin cancer there is.
You can also wear protective clothing, such as hats and sunglasses, for better body coverage from the rays.