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Skin cancer symptoms to look for other than a new mole

Skin cancer: Dr Chris outlines the signs of a melanoma

Worldwide, skin cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease with the World Health Organisation reporting up to three million cases every year.

It is feared these numbers could increase if the ozone level continues to be depleted, creating more exposure to ultraviolet rays.

Like any disease, the sooner you spot the symptoms the sooner you can seek the right treatment.

As would be expected, symptoms of skin cancer typically appear on the skin.

Many people are aware that the appearance of a new mole is something to be cautious about for this reason.

READ MORE The difference between age spots and skin cancer – expert on signs

However, there are a number of other symptoms that should raise alarm bells.

There are two main types of skin cancer – melanoma and non-melanoma.

Melanoma skin cancer

Melanoma skin cancer is much less common than non-melanoma but is more dangerous.

This is because it can spread to other parts of the body.

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It develops in cells that produce melanin – the pigment that gives your skin its colour and helps protect against sunburn.

A new mole is one common sign of this type of skin cancer, however, any changes in appearance to a mole is also a symptom.

This includes it changing shape, size and colour. If the mole becomes swollen, sore, crusty, itchy or bleeds it should also be checked by a doctor.

Other signs of melanoma include:

  • An unusual mark or lump on your skin that lasts for a few weeks
  • A dark area or line under a nail that is not due to an injury.

Non-melanoma skin cancer

Non-melanoma is a far more common type of skin cancer that develops on patches of skin regularly exposed to the sun.

The NHS explains: “Non-melanoma skin cancer most often develops on areas of skin regularly exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, hands, shoulders, upper chest and back.

“See a GP if you have any skin abnormality, such as a lump, ulcer, lesion or skin discolouration that has not healed after four weeks.”

You should also look for the “appearance of a lump or discoloured patch on the skin that persists after a few weeks and slowly progresses over months or sometimes years”.

The NHS adds: “In most cases, cancerous lumps are red and firm and sometimes turn into ulcers, while cancerous patches are usually flat and scaly.”

There are some specific types of non-melanoma skin cancer that can result in different symptoms.

“Basal cell carcinoma usually appears as a small, shiny pink or pearly-white lump with a translucent or waxy appearance,” the NHS says. “It can also look like a red, scaly patch.

“Squamous cell carcinoma appears as a firm pink lump with a rough or crusted surface.”

If you experience any symptoms of skin cancer you should speak to your GP.

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