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Prevention and early detection key

Sun protection can significantly decrease a person’s risk of developing skin cancer. Sun protection practices include staying out of the sun when the rays are strongest, applying a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB protection) sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher year-round to all exposed skin, and wearing protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when outdoors.

Since skin cancer is so prevalent today, dermatologists and plastic surgeons also recommend that everyone learns how to recognize the signs of skin cancer, use this knowledge to perform regular examinations of their skin, and see a skin expert annually (more frequently if at high risk) for an examination. Skin cancer is highly curable with early detection and proper treatment.

For further useful information including examples of how malignant melanomas and other skin cancers look, please check out this link

Causes of skin cancer

Sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer. Many of the more than 100,000 skin cancers diagnosed each year could be prevented with protection from the sun’s rays. Scientists now know that exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays damages DNA in the skin. The body can usually repair this damage before gene mutations occur and cancer develops. When a person’s body cannot repair the damaged DNA, which can occur with cumulative sun exposure, cancer develops.

In some cases, skin cancer is an inherited condition. Between 5% and 10% of melanomas develop in people with a family history of melanoma.

Who gets skin cancer?

Skin cancer develops in people of all colours, from the palest to the darkest. However, skin cancer is most likely to occur in those who have fair skin, light-coloured eyes, blonde or red hair, a tendency to burn or freckle when exposed to the sun, and a history of sun exposure. Anyone with a family history of skin cancer also has an increased risk of developing skin cancer. In dark-skinned individuals, melanoma most often develops on non-sun-exposed areas, such as the foot, underneath nails, and on the mucous membranes of the mouth, nasal passages, or genitals. Those with fair skin also can have melanoma develop in these areas.

Where in UK is it skin healthiest (most safe) to live?

Cancer Research UK has investigated this and by clicking here you can see the map of UK. Scotland, Ireland and most of southern England are the highest risk areas to live.

Where on the body should you look for skin cancer?

Cancer Research UK has produced below illustration for men and women.

Skin cancer and melanoma in men and women

Skin cancer rates rising

While we now recognize that overexposure to the sun is unhealthy, the fact remains that most people do not protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays. More than 100,000 non melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed each year, and there were 638 deaths from non-melanoma skin cancer in 2012.

If current trends continue, 1 in 5 will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. Melanoma continues to rise at an alarming rate. In 1930, 1 in 5,000 was likely to develop melanoma during their lifetime. By 2004, this ratio jumped to 1 in 65. Today, melanoma is the second most common cancer in women aged 15 to 34 and affects 21 in 100 000 people.

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