Five red-flag symptoms of skin cancer as UK cases reach all-time high

Skin cancer
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Melanoma skin cancer cases in the UK have soared to record levels, with projections indicating over 20,000 diagnoses this year alone.

Cancer Research UK has highlighted a stark increase of nearly one-third in melanoma rates over the past decade, jumping from 21 to 28 cases per 100,000 people between 2007-09 and 2017-19. The figures are even more alarming for those over 80, with a 57% surge, while the age group of 25 to 49 saw a 7% rise.

The charity points out that around 17,000 cases of melanoma each year could be avoided, noting that excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is responsible for nearly 90% of cases by causing damage to DNA in skin cells.

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Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, emphasised the importance of prevention and early detection: "Survival from cancers including melanoma continues to improve, demonstrating the substantial progress made possible by research. It's vital people try to reduce their risk of getting the disease in the first place."

She advises: "Make sure to take care in the sun and contact your GP if you notice any unusual changes to your skin - whether a new or changing mole, a sore that doesn't heal, or an area of your skin that looks out of the ordinary. Spotting cancer early can make all the difference."

Given the variety of symptoms, it's essential to remain alert to any changes in your body. The article then lists specific signs to watch for, starting with sores, reports the Mirror.

If you notice a sore or area of skin which won't heal, even after four weeks, it's time to take notice and contact your GP for advice. People should also look out for unusual appearances on your skin, for example any spots or patches on your skin that look different from the rest.

Changes in colour, size, or shape could be a cause for concern.

People should also look out for and pay attention to persistent symptoms. If a spot starts to bother you, whether it's itching, bleeding, crusting, or scabbing, and these symptoms persist for more than four weeks, it's best to get it checked out.

While some changes may seem minor, five other key early signs of skin cancer require prompt attention. Keep an eye on any sore or patch of skin that just won't heal, especially if it lasts for more than four weeks.

It might look transparent, shiny, or pink, with raised edges and possibly feel tender or rough.

Stubborn Ulcers.

If you notice an area of skin breaking down into an ulcer and it sticks around for more than four weeks without a clear reason, it's time to get it checked out.

Suspicious Lumps.

Even small, slow-growing lumps that appear shiny and pink or red shouldn't be ignored.

Red patches.

Red patches on your skin, especially if they're itchy, warrant attention. While they could be harmless, it's better to be safe and have them examined.

Changes in Moles or Freckles.

Changes in the size, shape, or colour of moles or freckles could be a sign of melanoma, a type of skin cancer that needs immediate medical attention. Other symptoms to watch out for include swollen and sore moles, bleeding, itching, and crustiness.