It’s hugely important to protect yourself from skin damage, which can result in skin cancer. Here we point out a few things to look out for including irregular moles, warning signs on your skin and some of the treatment available to you.

What are the effects of sunburn?

Sunburn is one of the most obvious (and avoidable) symptoms of skin damage and whilst its visible effects last for a relatively short period of time before it can heal, as well as the physical effects (itchiness, peeling, etc), it can result in issues later in life, including skin cancer. The sunlight reaching your skin is composed of ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA damages elastin, therefore accelerating the signs of ageing (elastin is a component of our skin which keeps it looking younger). On the other hand, UVB damages the superficial layers of the skin and is responsible for the majority of sunburn. According to Cancer Research UK, getting sunburnt just once every 2 years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer.

What is Actinic Keratosis?

Actinic Keratosis appears in irregular/rough/scaly patches and can be itchy. You may find this in sun-exposed areas such as your face and neck. This type of skin damage could also be found on your head, ears, lower legs and scalp. According to the British Association of Dermatologists, this type of skin damage can eventually become skin cancer but the chance of this is quite small.

My mole has suddenly changed in appearance, what should I do?

It is vital that you keep an eye on any changes in the shape or colour of your moles. This can be a warning sign of them evolving in to a melanoma (cancerous mole). In some cases these may be removed. Spotting the early signs of skin cancer is much easier if you’re familiar with your skin. Regularly check yourself in the mirror and take pictures of your moles so any changes will stand out to you. It is a good idea to place something like a small coin next to the mole as a point of comparison. If you have any of the changes described in this link, seek medical advice as soon as you can.

More commonly, affected areas for these moles are on the back for men and on the legs for women, although they can be found anywhere.

The ABCDE Rule

The ABCDE rule helps patients understand and identify any changes to their skin and/or moles. While it is a good system for identification, it’s important to remember that not all melanomas fall within the ABCDE guidelines.

A – asymmetry

B – border irregularity

C – colour variations

D – diameter over ¼ inch (6mm)

E – evolution (or change)

If you experience any other irregular spots, sores, red patches, ulcers or lumps – especially ones that don’t heal – it’s well worth keeping an eye on them and getting checked out by a professional. 

What skin damage/cancer treatment is available at The McIndoe Centre and how much does it cost?

Starting at £410 (guide price), treatment for skin damage and skin cancer at The McIndoe Centre could involve either skin lesions or mole removals:

A partial mole removal, otherwise known as a shave biopsy, involves an incision at the base of a lesion that is sticking out; essentially shaving it off the skin. Direct removal is the complete removal of a mole or lesion and some surrounding skin. Sometimes you can successfully remove early skin cancer non-surgically with a topical cream. A technique called MOHs surgery is also available exclusively at The McIndoe Centre, this is when the skin cancer is removed a layer at a time until all the cancer cells are gone. Any wounds gained from this type of mole removal should heal within a few weeks following the treatment. If you keep fit and healthy and avoid smoking.

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Page last reviewed on 12/11/2018

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