Skin

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world.

The skin is divided into two main layers and cancer can develop in the different types of cells that make up theses layers. There are two main types of skin cancer: non-melanoma (basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma) and melanoma.

Non-melanoma skin cancer

Non-melanoma cancer refers to a group of cancers that develop in the upper layers of the skin. In the UK about 147,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. It affects more men than women, and is more commonly in the elderly.

Symptoms

  • Appearance of lump or discoloured patch of skin

You should see your GP if the area doesn’t heal within 4 weeks, looks unusual, or is itchy, hurts, bleeds, crusts, or scabs for more than 4 weeks.

Treatment

The type of treatment you receive will depend on the location and stage of your cancer. The main treatments include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Imiquimod cream

Your treatment plan may have a combination of these.

Melanoma skin cancer

Melanoma is a type of cancer that can spread to other parts of the body. It is less common than non-melanoma cancer.

Symptoms

  • A new mole or a change of appearance in an existing mole

These can occur on any part of the body, but the most commonly affected areas are the back in men and legs in women. They will usually have an irregular shape and more than 1 colour. It may be larger than normal and become itchy or bleed.

You should see your GP if you notice any of these changes to your skin. The earlier melanomas are found the easier it is to treat them.

Treatment

The type of treatment you receive will depend on the location and stage of your cancer. The main treatments include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted cancer drugs

Your treatment plan may have a combination of these.

Support and more information available

NHS

Non-Melanoma skin cancer
Melanoma skin cancer

Cancer Research UK

Non-Melanoma skin cancer
Melanoma skin cancer

Macmillan

Non-Melanoma skin cancer
Melanoma skin cancer

Melanoma Fund

Melanoma UK

OcuMel UK

Skcin

Skin Cancer Foundation