What are the signs and symptoms of skin cancer? How does it look? Is it caused by sunburns?

There are many different types of cancers. It is one of the leading killers.

Lung cancer is the most dangerous form, followed closely by prostate, bowel and breast cancer.

 It's important to know the signs of skin cancer and get any worries checked


It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of skin cancer so that you can get your concerns checked.Credit: Getty Images

These four types of cancer account for almost half (45%) of all cancer deaths.

Cancer Research estimates that around 16200 people in the UK are diagnosed with skin carcinomas each year.

There are approximately 2,333 deaths from those patients.

Early detection of signs and symptoms could help you survive.

Experts advise that people regularly check their skin for signs of new melanomas or the possibility of the disease returning.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer refers to the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal skin cells.

This growth can occur when damage is caused to skin cells – most often caused by UV radiation from sunshine or tanning beds.

This can lead to mutations, which are genetic defects that cause the skin cells of the affected person to multiply quickly and develop malignant tumours.

Skin cancer is the fifth most frequent form of cancer in the UK.

These are the signs and symptoms:

  • Spot or sore
  • Ulcer
  • One lump
  • Your skin may have red patches

What are the risk factors

  • The likelihood of developing non-melanoma, or skin cancer, increases with age.
  • Previous skin cancer
  • Skin cancer in the family
  • Sun exposure
  • There are certain skin conditions that can cause severe skin reactions, including solar keratosis, sunburn, and xerodermapigmentosum.
  • There are also risks for those who have had radiation exposure in the past or have a weaker immune system.
  • Sunburn can increase your risk of getting the disease. Skin cancer can be contracted by just five sunburns.

Different types of skin cancer


This condition can be found anywhere on the body, however it is more common in the back, arms, face, and legs.

Melanomas can spread to other organs in the body – which makes them more deadly.

Melanoma can be characterized by the appearance of new moles or changes in existing moles.

You should be on the lookout for moles.

  • Growing bigger
  • Change your shape
  • Change of colour
  • Bleeding and crusty
  • Itchy, or painful

Basal cell cancers

Basal cell cancer (BCC), sometimes referred as a rodent’s ulcer.

The disease affects only the outermost cells of the skin.

BCCs can be identified by a sudden increase in skin growth:

  • It looks smooth and pearly.
  • It seems waxy
  • It appears to be a solid, red lump
  • Sometimes bleeds
  • Accumulates a scab/crust
  • Never fully heal
  • Is it itchy?
  • It looks like a flat, red spot, and is scaly.
  • It can develop into a painful ulcer

BCCs account for around 75% of all skin cancers. They are slow-growing and rarely spread to other parts.

This type of skin cancer can be treated early and is often completely curable.

BCCs can become more aggressive if they spread to the deeper layers of skin and bones. This can make it harder to treat.

Squamous cell carcinoma

A form of skin cancer other than melanoma is called squamous cells carcinoma.

This is a cancer in the keratinocyte cells, which are located on the outer layer.

These cells are most commonly found on the neck, face, bald head, arms, lower legs, backs of hands, and neck.

It is the most common form of skin cancer, and it may be:

  • You will appear scaly
  • A hard, crusty cap
  • Raised skin
  • Touching is tender
  • Sometimes, you need to bleed

Is it possible to treat the disease?

Skin cancer is often treated when detected early.

There are a few things that can affect how skin cancer is treated.

Types of treatment can depend on the type of skin cancer, how far it’s spread, where the cancer is and what stage it’s at.

The best treatment for skin cancer is surgery.

Most of the time, the procedure is minor and performed under local anaesthesia.

You may have to get a skin graft depending upon the extent of your cancer.

There are many types of surgery, depending on the type and size of the cancer.

Radiotherapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy cream are all options when surgery is not possible.

For more information visit: cancerresearchuk.org

What are the signs and symptoms of skin cancer? How does it look? Is it caused by sunburns?


Credit: American Cancer Society

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