5 Changes to Your Skin You Shouldn't Ignore: Could They Be Signs of Skin Cancer?
Dr Goyal is a practising NHS GP with a specialist interest in Dermatology with over 15 years experience.
As a GP with a specialist interest in skin conditions (dermatology), he is often asked by patients about skin changes that they have noticed. Some of these skin changes can be harmless, but others can be more serious and may be signs of skin cancer.
There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma. BCC and SCC are the most common types of skin cancer, and they are usually found on parts of the body that have been exposed to the sun. Melanoma is less common than BCC and SCC, but it is more aggressive.
If you have any concerns about skin cancer, please don't hesitate to ask our specialists at mySkinDoc. We would be more than happy to help!
Symptoms to look for in Skin Cancer
There are a few symptoms you should ignore if your mole changes or if you develop a new blemish on your skin. We call these skin lesions.
With that being said, here are the five skin changes you shouldn’t ignore:
If you do develop one or more of these symptoms then you should go and see your GP or dermatologist if you can.
A change in the size of a mole or skin lesion.
A change in the shape
A change in the colour of a mole or skin lesion.
The development of a new skin lesion with the above symptoms.
Itching, crusting or bleeding of a mole or skin lesion.
If you have any concerns about skin cancer, please don't hesitate to speak to your doctor. Early detection is key to successful treatment!
What happens if my doctor thinks I might have skin cancer?
Your GP will refer you to the dermatologist at the local NHS hospital. This is usually done on an urgent basis and you should normally be seen within 2 weeks.
Occasionally if your GP is experienced in Dermatology then they may treat milder skin cancers in the surgery.
At the dermatology clinic, they will assess your skin cancer and decide on the best treatment for you.
Treatments for skin cancer
The main treatments for skin cancer are:
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
Depending on how advanced the skin cancer is this will dictate how aggressively you will be treated.
You may also be referred to a tertiary hospital in the NHS which is even more specialised with skin cancers and treatment.
Although it is worrying if you have a mole of skin lesion that does have the changes we mentioned, a large proportion of skin lesions and blemishes we see in the dermatology clinic are benign (non-cancerous).
The commonest lesion we see is something called a seborrhoeic wart. This is a skin lesion which usually appears on the face, chest or back and is not skin cancer.
If you have any concerns you can see your GP who will be able to refer you to the dermatology clinic if necessary.
Here are some useful resources if you have been affected by skin cancer or would like more information:
This blog post has been written by our CEO and Founder of mySkinDoc, Dr Amit Goyal