Skin cancer red flag symptoms – including itching, blemishes or unusual moles

skin cancer is a disease that can often creep up on people and can appear anywhere on the body.

Being vigilant with your skin regarding any new moles, freckles or blemishes is important for earlier treatment if it does turn out to be cancerous.

According to Cancer Research UK, since the early 1990s, melanoma skin cancer incidence rates have more than doubled (140%) in the UK.

With global warming and the use of tanning beds, these numbers are set to rise even further.

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body, according to the NHS.

When the tumor is thin and has not yet invaded downwards from the surface it is less likely to have reached the layers that enable it to spread to other areas of the body, where it is much more difficult to control.

Over the last decade alone, melanoma skin cancer incidence rates have increased by around a third (32%) in the UK.

It is estimated that about 86% of all skin cancers in the UK are caused by excessive exposure to sunlight.

Exposure to artificial sources of UV radiation from indoor tanning beds and lamps is the second most frequent cause of skin cancer.

How to spot symptoms of skin cancer

Skin cancer can appear anywhere on the body

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanomas typically appear on the legs of women.

Moles, which are mostly harmless, could be harboring cancerous cells.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the ABCDE method of checking moles:

  • A: asymmetry
  • B: border changes
  • C: color changes
  • D: diameter changes (such as an increase in size)
  • E: elevation or evolution (a growth that has changed over time).

If you notice any change in size, shape, color or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, you should see a doctor immediately.

“Too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause damage to the DNA in skin cells,” says Dr Anushka Patcheva, deputy chief medical officer at Vitality.

She added: “Skin cancer develops primarily on areas of sun-exposed skin, including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, and on the legs.

“But it’s worth being aware that skin cancer can also form on areas that rarely see the light of day — your palms, beneath your fingernails or toenails, and your genital area.

“It’s important to regularly check your skin and if you spot anything new, any changes or anything unusual, contact your GP.”

Reduce risk of skin cancer

For tips to help minimize your risk of skin cancer, Dr Patcheva advises:

  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs in the sun
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears and neck
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays
  • Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher
  • Stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm
  • Don’t assume that because it’s cloudy you can’t get burnt.

Face blemishes to keep an eye on

Doctor Ernest Azzopardi from NEO Health Clinic Aesthetic Medicine & Plastic Surgery said: “There are many different things that can cause a blemish, skin cancer being one of them.

“One would take a skin blemish to mean any type of skin imperfection like a mark, spot or flaw including discoloration on the skin.

“Most are harmless, some blemishes can signal that all is not well, and some may tell us about the presence of skin cancer.”

As always, your safest best is to speak with your GP about any unusual moles, freckles or blemishes.

Top Trending Stories Today

Don’t miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond – Sign up to our daily newsletter here


Leave a Comment