Life

Skin Cancer: How To Spot The Signs

Two big stories around skin cancer have cropped up recently: one is that men who live alone are more likely to get skin cancer and the second is that scientists have made a step towards understanding what role family history plays in getting the disease.

Regardless of gender or whether you live with someone, the bottom line is that if caught early, skin cancer can be successfully treated 90% of the time.

Skin cancer can occur on any part of your body but the most at risk areas are those most exposed to the sun, such as your face, neck, legs and arms.

"Your skin is made up of two layers, the epidermis and dermis, and these are supported by a layer of tissue," says Bupa.

"The epidermis is the top layer and has three types of cells (squamous cells, basal cells and melanocytes)."

  • basal cell carcinoma – starts in the cells lining the bottom of the epidermis and accounts for about 75% of skin cancers
  • squamous cell carcinoma – starts in the cells lining the top of the epidermis and accounts for about 20% of skin cancers

Melanoma is a lot more serious and can spread quite quickly to other areas of the body. The most common sign is the change to an existing mole or the development of a new mole.

Cancer Research UK says: "Malignant melanoma is the 5th most common cancer in the UK (2010), accounting for 4% of all new cases. In males and females separately, malignant melanoma is the 6th most common cancer (4% each of the male and female total."

Here are some of the signs to look out for, as seen on the charity's website. If in doubt, please speak to your GP.

Skin cancer risk factors