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NHS advice on when to see a GP about skin cancer concerns as cases rise

NHS advice on when to see a GP about skin cancer concerns as cases rise

Melanoma indicators can be notoriously difficult to detect

With the summer season approaching, the NHS has advice on the most effective and efficient ways that holidaymakers can protect their skin from sun damage.

And with skin cancer cases reportedly on the rise at a dumbfounding rate, one of the most vital medical warnings issued at this time of year is when and under which conditions is it appropriate to visit your GP over concerns surrounding sun damaged skin.

Skin cancer is reportedly on the rise. (Getty/urbazon)
Skin cancer is reportedly on the rise. (Getty/urbazon)

Cancer Research UK has reported a colossal surge in cases of melanoma skin cancer across Britain.

The charity also predicts a record 20,800 cases this year, which is a notable jump from the yearly average of 2020 and 2022.

This, itself, is another staggering shift from the 2009 to 2019 rates, which estimated that just 21 to 28 cases were reported in every 100,000 UK citizens.

While the news is undoubtedly concerning for both patients and medics alike, there are several causes for the significant spike in cases in recent years.

Not only does the growing aging population mean that more and more skin cancer sufferers are receiving diagnoses and treatment, but the increase in awareness of the previously-overlooked symptoms of the disease mean that more people are seeing their GPs when concerned.

Moles without clear edges should be checked out. (NHS)
Moles without clear edges should be checked out. (NHS)

There are certain melanoma indicators, however, that medics across the UK are hoping that their patients take note - specifically with regards to the ways that cancerous moles can present themselves - to ensure that the most appropriate form of treatment is administered in worst case scenarios.

While it's generally well-known that changes in the skin - no matter in which way - should be assessed by a GP, there are certain adaptations that moles can undergo which are signs that cancer may be present, and in which cases must be checked over by a doctor.

Moles with uneven shapes and edges

Typical moles tend to present themselves as circular-edged blotches on the skin.

Melanomas, on the other hand - which can appear anywhere on your body, but are common in sun-exposed areas - tend to bear an uneven shape.

These may have two different-shaped halves, or rough, uneven edges.

Moles are usually only one colour. (NHS)
Moles are usually only one colour. (NHS)

Moles with a mix of colours

Non-cancerous moles tend to be one colour, either a light OR darkish brown colour, but they can also be a pale beige.

According to the NHS, if this is the case, then you likely needn't worry.

If, however, your mole has changed colour in some way, or seems to be partially blending with a different colour, then this could be cause for concern, being that melanomas are often a blend or one or two colours.

Large moles

Typical moles tend to only be small - around 2mm in diameter at most - whereas melanoma can often present itself in larger, seemingly dragged out blotches.

If your mole is over 6mm in diameter, it is recommended that you see your GP to get it checked out.

Moles that change over time

Large moles should be assessed by a GP. (NHS)
Large moles should be assessed by a GP. (NHS)

In some skin cancer cases, a mole could have remained on the body since as early as birth, but will only become cancerous at a certain point.

The way to tell whether a mole could potentially be dangerous is if it has changed - even slightly - over time.

Has your mole become swollen and sore? Is it itchy? Bleeding? Crusty? If so, you should have it checked out by a doctor or dermatologist.

Locating a cancerous mole as early as possible can often mean that medics can treat it quicker.

With this in mind, the NHS also recommends you keep a look out for moles that become painful or inflamed, new marks that have appeared on the skin out of the blue and hasn't gone away after a few weeks, or a dark area underneath a nail that has not been caused by an injury.

In any of these cases, seeing your GP is recommended.

The NHS advises to 'use shade, clothing and a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to protect yourself' from the sun.

Featured Image Credit: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images/NHS

Topics: Cancer, Health, UK News, News, NHS