Symptoms of skin cancer are generally recognized as a change in the mole, but skin cancer from basal cell carcinoma can appear on the skin in a different way. Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that most often develops in areas of skin exposed to the sun. It is considered the most common form of skin cancer, but not all symptoms are easy to detect.
The British Skin Foundation says that basal cell carcinoma mainly affects fair-skinned adults, but other skin types are also at risk.
Those most at risk of developing it are:
- People with pale skin who burn easily and rarely tan (usually with light or red hair, although some may have dark hair, but still have fair skin).
- Those who have had a lot of exposure to the sun, such as people with outdoor hobbies or outdoor workers, and people who have lived in sunny climates.
- People who used sunbeds or tanned regularly.
- People who have had a basal cell carcinoma.
How to prevent basal cell carcinoma
The British Skin Foundation also offers some solar safety tips to help prevent the appearance of basal cell carcinoma:
- Protect your skin with clothes and don't forget to wear a hat that protects your face, neck and ears and a pair of UV goggles.
- Spend some time in the shade between 11 am and 3 pm when it's sunny. Get out of the sun before your skin has a chance of getting red or burned.
- When choosing a sunscreen, look for a high protection SPF (SPF 30 or more) to protect against UVB, and the UVA circle logo and / or 4 or 5 UVA stars for protection against UVA. Apply plenty of sunscreen for 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun and apply again every two hours, just after swimming and drying the towels.
- Keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight.
- The British Association of Dermatologists recommends that you inform your doctor of any changes to a mole or piece of skin. If your family doctor is concerned about your skin, consult a consultant dermatologist – specialist in skin cancer diagnosis. Your doctor can refer you free of charge through the NHS.
- Sunscreens should not be used as an alternative to clothing and shade, but they do offer additional protection. No sunscreen will provide 100% protection.
- It may be worth taking vitamin D supplement pills (available at health food stores), as strictly avoiding sunlight can reduce vitamin D levels.
Other types of skin cancer
The appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole can be a symptom of melanoma skin cancer.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body.
The NHS says melanoma can happen anywhere on the body, but the areas most commonly affected are the back in men and the legs in women.
The health agency adds: “Melanomas are uncommon in areas protected from exposure to the sun, such as the buttocks and the scalp.
“In most cases, melanomas are irregularly shaped and more than one color.
“The mole can also be larger than normal and can sometimes cause itching or bleeding.
"Look for a mole that gradually changes its shape, size or color."
If you are concerned about the symptoms of cancer, you should still contact your family doctor, despite current UK blockade measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Cancer Research UK advises: “Your family doctor can speak to you over the phone or online. They ask about your symptoms and tell you if you need to see them or another GP.