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Skin Cancer

Signs and symptoms of skin cancer.

There is information on

  • Checking your skin for signs of skin cancer
  • Where non-melanoma skin cancers usually develop
  • How skin cancers can appear
  • Basal cell skin cancer symptoms
  • Squamous cell skin cancer symptoms
  • Symptoms of Bowen’s disease
  • Checking your skin for signs of skin cancer

    The symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer can usually be seen quite easily. They tend to occur most often on skin that is exposed to the sun. It will help you to spot skin cancers early if you are aware of how your skin normally looks. That way, you will recognise any changes more easily. Remember to get your partner or someone else you trust to check your back or other areas that you cannot easily see. This is especially important if you sunbathe a lot. Or if you regularly work outside without a shirt on.

    Where non-melanoma skin cancers usually develop
    Skin cancers can develop on or near other non-cancerous (benign) skin growths. Any area of your skin that is damaged and does not heal should be shown to your GP.

    The symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer may be similar to symptoms of other non-cancerous skin conditions. It is worth having any symptom checked by your GP. Your doctor will not think you are bothering them unnecessarily and can decide whether your symptoms need to be investigated further.

    How skin cancers can appear
    Skin cancers can appear as

  • A spot or sore that does not heal within 4 weeks
  • A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, scab, crust or bleed for more than 4 weeks
  • Areas where the skin has broken down or ulcerates with no obvious cause, and does not heal within 4 weeks

    An ulcer is an area that is breaking down and begins to get deeper. This can be called erosion.

    Basal cell skin cancers look like a small, slow growing shiny pink or red lump. If left, they tend to become crusty, ulcerate or bleed. They are commonest on the face, scalp, ears, hands, shoulders and back.

    Squamous cell skin cancers are usually pink lumps. They may have hard or scaly skin on the surface. They can bleed easily and ulcerate. They are most often found on the face, neck, lips, ears, hands, shoulders, arms and legs.

    Bowen's disease
    This is a very early form of skin cancer. It usually looks like a red patch that may be itchy. It can appear anywhere on the body. It is most common on women's legs. But it can also develop on the moist membranes, for example in the mouth. Rarely, Bowen’s disease can develop in the genital area.

    Slip, Slop, Slap. Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat.

    Do not wait, act.



    Do not delay. Be safe not sorry.

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