What are the early signs of skin cancer?

sunbathingWith frosts finally behind us and sunny weekends spurring us on to dig out the barbecues and paddling pools, it’s well worth pausing to ask yourself if you are being sufficiently careful in the sun.

Skin cancer is the fastest rising cancer in the UK – and is one of the biggest cancer killers in 15–34-year-olds. Ask people which countries they associate with prevalence of skin cancer and many will say Australia – yet it kills more people in the UK. The good news is that, caught early, skin cancer has a high survival rate so being vigilant about changes in your skin is essential.

What should I look out for?

Skin cancer can occur anywhere on your body so check everywhere. The basic warning signs are a mole that looks different from your other moles; or one that is varied in colour, or irregular in outline, or is getting bigger or thicker, or is raised, red, itchy or flaky.

If you are uncertain about a mole, promptly make an appointment with your GP. If they are concerned, they will refer you on to a skin specialist such as Milton Keynes-based Mr Sudip Ghosh.

Skin cancer can also be disfiguring; Mr Ghosh regularly performs reconstructive plastic surgery at his Milton Keynes clinic – the sooner the cancer is detected, the less aesthetic damage it causes.

What can I do to prevent it?

As over 80% of all skin cancers are caused by over-exposure to UV radiation, be it in the form of the sun or sunbeds, there is a great deal that you can do to prevent it, simply by employing sun sense. SLIP into a t-shirt, SLOP on some factor 30+, SLAP on a wide-brimmed hat, SLIDE on quality sunglasses and move out of the sun and into the SHADE.

Being vigilant and knowing your body is also important. You can find a downloadable version of a body map at www.skcin.org, complete with instructions on self-examination body mapping.

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