How to prevent skin cancer

Many consider a suntan to be a fashionable accessory – but at what cost? Over the past 25 years, skin cancer has grown to become the most common type of cancer among the Caucasian population.

Many are surprised to discover that there are actually three common types of skin cancer, divided into melanomas and non-melanomas.The good news is that the most common types are non-melanomas, which are relatively easy to treat, slow growing and rarely spread to other parts of the body, posing only a small threat to life. however, malignant melanoma does pose a risk and is the most serious form of skin cancer. it is aggressive, fast growing and difficult to treat if not detected early enough.

Read more about natural skincare


Of the non-melanoma skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma (Bcc) is the most common type, accounting for 75% of skin cancer cases. the majority of Bccs are very slow growing and it is unlikely they will spread to other parts of the body. if treated at an early stage, they can be completely cured. they affect a type of cell within the top layer of skin (epidermis) and often start as a small, painless red spot or nodule, with a smooth surface and a waxy or pearl-like border. they may be itchy and bleed occasionally, developing into an ulcer that doesn’t heal. some can become more aggressive, and if not treated can spread into the deeper layers of the skin and even to the bones, making treatment difficult. Bccs usually occur in mid-to-late life, and can recur in the same area of skin after treatment.

One in five skin cancers (20%) in the UK take the form of squamous cell carcinoma (scc), which is the second most common form of the disease. Usually, SCCs are slow growing and will usually only spread to other parts of the body if left untreated for a long time. The main symptom is an area of thickened reddish brown scaly skin that develops into a painless, hard lump with an irregular edge. The lump forms a recurring ulcer, which doesn’t heal. Most people with SCC can be completely cured with straightforward treatment.

Unlike these more common types of non-melanoma skin cancer, the symptoms of malignant melanoma begin with a change in the common mole and can spread much more rapidly through the layers of skin. Less common than BCC and SCC, it affects around 11,000 people in the UK and tends to be much more resistant to treatment and if not caught early enough or treated successfully, can easily spread to the liver, lungs or brain. The main symptom is a noticeable change within an existing mole, or a quick growing, irregular dark-coloured spot which appears on previously normal skin. The mole will need to be checked by a medical professional straight away if it starts to exhibit symptoms such as bleeding, itching, crusting, reddening and irregular edges. Unlike non-melanoma skin cancers, malignant melanoma can appear anywhere on the body, including under or along part of the nail.


The number one cause of skin cancer is overexposure to harmful UV rays either from the sun or from overuse of sunbeds. Although a suntan is seen to provide the wearer with a rather healthy glow, it is actually a sign of damaged skin. It is thought that harmful UV rays can disrupt the normal cell making process, causing damage which leads to cancerous changes. The non-melanoma skin cancers BCC and SCC tend to be caused by prolonged sunlight exposure over many years whereas the main cause of malignant melanoma is exposure to short periods of intense sunlight, which causes sunburn and blistering.

Find out about summer skin

Prevention & Treatment

The best way to prevent skin cancer is simple: Avoid getting too much sun. A bit of sun is good for us; it provides our body with vitamin D – essential for healthy bones and teeth. However, when our skin is burned or blistered, it is damaged and we become at risk of developing skin cancer. In order to avoid harsh sunlight, it is best to stick to the shade between 11am and 3pm, cover up your head and body, apply a high-factor sunscreen regularly (minimum SPF15), and avoid sunbeds. Treatment for skin cancer will depend on how far the cancer has spread. Non-melanoma skin cancers can be treated by an operation, removing the affected area. If the cancer covers a larger area, radiotherapy or chemotherapy may also be used to kill off all remaining cancer cells. As these cancers tend to be slow growing, cure rates are high and deaths uncommon. On the other hand, because malignant melanoma is such an aggressive cancer, those affected will need to be looked after by a team of specialists. Again, treatment for the cancer will depend on how far it has spread.

The melanoma will be removed and further operations may be needed if cancer cells remain. In order to ensure the cancer has not spread deeper, nearby lymph glands may need to be removed and examined. If a melanoma has already spread, further surgery or laser treatment may be advised. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are sometimes used too.

Read more about skin-related problems

See Also:

Treating Scars: The Journey To Smoother Skin 

How To Take Better Care Of Your Skin

Male Health Awareness

You might also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and get
• FREE Competitions
• FREE Digital Magazines
• HOME and FAMILY News
And much more…

You have Successfully Subscribed!