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Skin Cancer – The Top Signs and Symptoms to Look Out For

16 July 2019

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As many of us are about to jet off to sunnier climes, it is extremely important to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Skin cancer is the 5th most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the UK, whilst according to Cancer Research UK 86% of melanoma cases are preventable.

True Solicitors identify the top signs and symptoms of skin cancer to look out for, and what action you can take to help prevent developing skin cancer in the future.

Non-melanoma skin cancer signs and symptoms

Skin cancers are categorised as either non-melanoma or melanoma. Non-melanoma is the most common type of skin cancer and develops in the upper layers of the skin. The most commonly occurring non-melanoma cancers are basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. These type of cancers develop slowly over time and initially present themselves in the form of:

• A lump or discoloured patch on the skin that doesn’t go away after a few weeks. The lump can slowly grow and change in size over a period of months, and even years.
• Cancerous lumps are often red and firm – sometimes developing into ulcers. (Squamous cell)
• Cancerous patches of skin are typically flat and scaly. (Basel cell)
• Non-melanoma tends to develop on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun the most, such as the face, ears, hands, shoulders, upper chest and back.

Causes of non-melanoma skin cancer

Non-melanoma skin cancer is caused due to the overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Be this from exposure to the sun and through use of UV tanning beds. Some people are at greater risk of developing non-melanoma cancer than others, including those who have:

• Fair skin that easily burns.
• A large number of freckles or moles.
• A history of sunburn.
• A job that involves them working outside for long period of time in the direct sun.
• A family history of skin cancer.
• A medical condition that suppresses their immune system.

Preventing non-melanoma skin cancer

It is not always possible to stop non-melanoma skin cancer from developing but there are measures that can be taken to avoid overexposure to UV light, including:

• Avoiding using sunbeds or sunlamps.
• Seeking shade during the hottest time of the day.
• Using a high factor sunscreen and keeping skin covered in the sun.
• Regularly checking your skin for signs of changes in moles or patches. The earlier skin cancer is detected the higher the chance of successfully treating it.

Melanoma skin cancer signs and symptoms

Melanoma is the type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body. It typically manifests itself in the form of changes to an existing mole or in the appearance of a new mole, anywhere on the body. Melanomas tend to have an irregular shape and are made up of more than one colour. Moles can be itchy and bleed, and also tend to be larger in size than normal. There are different types of melanoma including:

Superficial spreading melanoma: This is the most common type of melanoma in the UK. They typically grow outwards to begin with, but when they start to grown down into the deeper layers of skin this is when they can spread to other parts of the body. It is important to have any mole changes, especially those with an irregular edge checked out by your doctor as soon as you notice.

Nodular melanoma: This is a fast developing type of melanoma that grows down into the deeper layers of skin, if not removed. They look like a red or black lump and usually appear on previously normal skin on the head, neck, chest or back. Bleeding and oozing is common.

Lentigo maligna melanoma: Lentigo maligna melanoma are flat and develop sideways in the surface layers of the skin. They look like a large, dark freckle and stand out against other ‘normal’ freckles. They can change shape and gradually get bigger over time, and may also start to grow downwards into the deeper layers of skin and can form nodules. They make up 10% of melanoma cases and are most common in older people who gave spent most of their lives outdoors. They often develop on the face and areas of the body that exposed to the sun.

Causes of Melanoma

Melanoma is caused by sudden intense exposure to UV light – such as through getting sunburn on holiday or through using sunbeds. Some people are at greater risk of developing melanoma cancer than others, including those who have:

• Fair skin that burns easily
• Red or blonde hair
• A large number of moles or freckles
• A family history of skin cancer

Preventing Melanoma skin cancer

Just like non-melanoma, melanoma cancer isn’t completely preventable. There are however steps that you can take to help protect your skin as best you can in the sun.

• Always wear a high factor sunscreen.
• Seek shade at the hottest times of the day.
• Keep skin covered when exposed to the sun.
• Avoid using sunbeds or sunlamps.
• Check for changes in moles regularly.

Misdiagnosed Skin Cancer

If your GP or any other medical professional have failed to spot the symptoms of skin cancer and you have developed a more aggressive form of skin cancer, or the cancer has spread to a different part of the body as a result you may have a claim for medical negligence.

True Solicitors may be able to help you with your claim if you received negligent medical treatment in the form of:

• Failure to be referred to hospital as early as this should have been.
• Failure to be properly examined.
• Not being properly tested after removal of mole or lump.
• Cancer not being fully removed during surgery.
• Incorrect advice or diagnosis.

If you believe that you, or a loved one, have a claim for late or misdiagnosed skin cancer, contact TRUE Solicitors today to speak to a member of our medical negligence team. We offer an initial, free, no obligation, assessment of your case.

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