Published On: Sat, Jul 14th, 2018

Skin cancer symptoms: Six signs other than a change in appearance of a mole

Skin cancer symptoms are usually associated with a change in a mole on the skin. But this cancer usually falls under two different types – melanoma and non-melanoma. 

The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole. 

But what are the symptoms of non-melanoma cancer?

According to Dr Sarah Brewer it’s not always easy for even a specialist to tell if a skin blemish is cancerous. 

She said: “If you are concerned about any skin blemish that changes, or a scab, sore or ulcer that fails to heal within 3 weeks, do talk to your doctor in case you need a biopsy.” 

The Healthspan Medical Director explained typical signs to look for include a patch of skin that becomes scaly, crusts, darkens, becomes asymmetrical or develops redness or swelling beyond the border of a mole, or which itches or becomes tender, develops a raised or rolled edge or which bleeds.

“Skin cancer is becoming increasingly common, so check your moles regularly and report any that change in colour, shape, texture, or start bleeding.”

Dr Brewer adds that you should remember to check areas you can’t easily see too, using a long mirror, or ask a partner or relative to check for you. 

Private mole clinics also offer a full screen with a trained nurse who will take images of unusual skin blemishes for closer examination by a dermatologist. 

Overexposure to ultraviolet light is the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancer. 

UV light comes from the sun, as well as from artificial sunbeams and sunlamps. 

UV exposure is the main preventable cause of skin cancer, and wearing sunscreen is one of the best ways of staying safe in the sun.

But British Skin Foundation advises your skin needs time to absorb sunscreen for it to be effective.

It states: “Skin needs time to absorb sunscreen, so apply generously about 20 to 30 minutes before going out.

“Reapply frequently at least every two hours as it can come off when sweating or through rubbing.”

You should also make sure to use a sunscreen of SPF30 (SPF stands for ‘Sun Protection Factor’), and make sure the bottle has a four or five star UVA rating.

Other ways of staying safe in the sun, as recommended by the organisation are wearing appropriate clothing, such as a hat, t-shirt and UV protective sunglasses, and seeking shelter when the sun is at its strongest – usually in the middle of the day.

There are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of developing non-melanoma skin cancer. 

These include having a previous non-melanoma skin cancer and a family history of skin cancer. 

Pale skin that burns easily, a large number of moles or freckles, medication that suppresses your immune system, and a co-existing medical condition that suppresses your immune system can also increase your risk of skin cancer. 

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Skin cancer symptoms: Six signs other than a change in appearance of a mole