Key signs of skin cancer to look out for – when to seek help from your GP

Skin cancer: Dr Ross Perry reveals signs and symptoms

With temperatures reaching record highs and the sun shining brightly, it’s easy to let your hair down and enjoy the idyllic weather.

However, most skin cancers develop in areas that are more regularly exposed to sunshine, making a protective factor during this time a must.

Worryingly, the serious condition can also crop up in places that rarely see the light, including your mouth, genitals, palms, and beneath your nails, according to Dr Nikita Patel, GP and Associate Medical Director at Vitality.

“It’s important to regularly check your skin and if you spot anything new, any changes or anything unusual, contact your GP,” the doctor said.

Fortunately, thinking “alphabetically” could help you identify the “key” warning signs.

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The doctor recommended using letters from A to E to look out for any cancerous changes:

  • A – Asymmetry – does the mole have an irregular shape?
  • B – Border – is the border irregular or jagged?
  • C – Colour – is the colour uneven?
  • D – Diameter – is the mole larger than a pea?
  • E – Evolving – has the mole changed in any of these areas over the past few weeks or months?

Apart from any changes in the size, shape and colour of your moles, there are also other “good reasons to seek an opinion from your GP”.

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The doctor recommended looking out for oozing, bleeding, pain and itchiness as well. 

He added: “Getting to know what your skin looks like normally is key, and if you see any changes or possible signs of skin cancer, go and see your GP.

“If possible, keep a diary of the lesion, how it has changed, use a ruler to measure it and take regular photos.”

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While using sunscreen with a protective factor on a sunny day is a must, the doctor recommended adopting this practice throughout the whole year.

“It’s important for everyone, regardless of skin type, to protect themselves from UV rays all year round, not just on sunny days,” Dr Patel said.

He noted that you can still get sunburn even when it’s cloudy, highlighting the importance of protecting your skin thoroughly.

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