Gaining a tan isn’t the only visible sign of skin damage, over time, enough DNA changes caused by sun exposure could lead to tumours developing. Speaking exclusively to about skin cancer is Dr Hélène du P Menagé. “While most of us want to spend time outside on a warm, sunny day, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can be very damaging to the skin,” Dr Menagé said. Pay extra attention to “common sites for skin cancers”, such as the nose, neck and ears.

Cancer Research UK pointed out two main types of skin cancer: non-melanoma skin cancer and melanoma skin cancer.

Non-melanoma skin cancer

Including basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell skin cancer (SCC), non-melanoma tends to develop on skin that is exposed to UV radiation.

Typical indications of skin cancer include a sore, or area of skin, that doesn’t heal within four weeks, looks unusual, hurts, bleeds, crusts or scabs for more than four weeks.

What the sore could look like

It may look see-through, shiny, pink, pearly white, or red; the lesion may feel sore, rough, and have raised edges.

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Also be on the look out for an ulcer that doesn’t heal within four weeks.

Skin cancer may also be a small, slow-growing, shiny, pink or red lump.

The NHS stated: “The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or discoloured patch on the skin.

“[It then] persists after a few weeks and slowly progresses over months or sometimes years.”


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Melanoma skin cancer

Differing from non-melanoma skin cancer, the first sign of a melanoma is often a new mole or a change in the appearance of an existing mole.

“Normal moles are generally round or oval, with a smooth edge, and usually no bigger than 6mm in diameter,” the NHS clarified.

“But size is not a sure sign of melanoma. A healthy mole can be larger than 6mm in diameter, and a cancerous mole can be smaller than this.”

Do the ABCDE checklist to help tell the difference between a normal mole and a melanoma.

  • Asymmetrical – melanomas usually have two very different halves and are an irregular shape
  • Border – melanomas usually have a notched or ragged border
  • Colours – melanomas will usually be a mix of two or more colours
  • Diameter – most melanomas are usually larger than 6mm in diameter
  • Enlargement or elevation – a mole that changes size over time is more likely to be a melanoma.

Another tip is to “wear protective clothing, such as a hat with a large brim that shades your nose, neck and ears”.

Dr Menagé added that people should “wear a shirt with sleeves to prevent your shoulders from being in the sun”.

In addition to protective clothing and seeking shade, Dr Menagé is a strong advocate of liberally applying sunscreen.

“High SPF products of 30 or higher generally have good UV-A protection,” she said.

“You should apply this twenty minutes before going outside and ensure that you re-apply every two hours, particularly if you have been in water or sweating.”

Dr Hélène du P Menagé is the consultant dermatologist at The Harley Street Clinic, part of HCA Healthcare UK.

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