Five skin cancer symptoms to look out for as UK cases reach all-time high

Rates of melanoma have increased by almost a third over a decade
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)


Melanoma skin cancer cases have soared to record levels, with projections indicating that over 20,000 individuals in the UK will be diagnosed this year.

Cancer Research UK has highlighted a stark increase in melanoma rates, which have surged by nearly one-third in the span of a decade, from 21 to 28 per 100,000 people between 2007-09 and 2017-19. The rise is particularly pronounced among those over 80, where there's been a 57% increase, and a 7% uptick in the 25 to 49 age bracket.

The charity points out that around 17,000 cases of melanoma each year could be avoided, as excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is responsible for almost nine out of ten instances, leading to DNA damage in skin cells and the onset of skin cancer.

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 caution regarding sun exposure and urges prompt medical advice if any unusual skin changes are observed: "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.", reports the Mirror.

Symptoms can be varied, making it crucial to stay vigilant on changes to your body. Here's what to look out for:

Sores

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

Any alterations in the appearance of moles or freckles, like changes in size, shape, or colour, could indicate melanoma, a type of skin cancer that requires prompt medical attention. Other signs to look out for include moles that are, swollen and sore, bleeding, itchy and crusty.