Word on Health

Word On Skin Cancer

Over the last few decades the incidence of skin cancer has increased dramatically. Currently malignant melanoma - the most deadly form of skin cancer - is the fastest growing cancer in the UK. Yet if the most deadly form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, is caught in its early stages the majority of cases can be cured. However if it is not found until later, when it has spread, it is much more difficult to treat and the survival rate after 5 years is less than 5%.

Our grateful thanks to Cancer Research UK for the use of the information below. To find out more about skin cancer please visit their website by clicking here.

What causes skin cancer? Sun exposure is the main cause of malignnant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. (In the UK around 11,000 cases of malignant melanoma each year are linked to excessive exposure to sunlight and the use of sunbeds)

Other factors that influence the risk of skin cancer are:


  • People with light eyes or hair, who sunburn easily or do not tan have an increased risk of skin cancer.
  • People with a lot of moles, unusually shaped or large moles, or a lot of freckles have a higher risk of malignant melanoma.
  • A history of sunburn doubles the risk of malignant melanoma and also increases the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer.
  • Use of sunbeds, especially by young people, is beleived to contribute to an increased risk of skin cancer.
  • People with a previos malignant melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer have a much higher risk of developing a second one.
  • People with a close relative diagnosed with skin cancer have a higher risk of developing it themselves.
  • People with certain medical conditions or using certain medications have an increased risk of some skin cancer types.


SAFE Checklist

Whether you are in the UK or abroad, protect your skin by:


  • Covering up in the sun and staying in the shade when the sun is at its strongest, between 11am and 3pm avoiding long periods of exposure to the sun
  • Wear factor 15+ sunscreen
  • Take extra care with children and if you have fair skin
  • Regularly check your skin for new sores and lumps that do not heal after a month. (The most common site for men to develop a malignant melanoma is on the chest or back. For women it is on the legs.)


Look out for:


  • Spots or sores that bleed, itch, develop a crust or hurt
  • Unexplained skin ulcers
  • New or existing moles which appear to be growing or changing shape
  • New or existing moles which are a range of shades of brown and black
  • New or existing moles which are larger than 6mm in diameter
  • New or existing moles which have jagged edges


Visit your GP immediately if you notice any unusual changes to your skin or moles 

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All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.