Skin Cancer

Find out about the risk factors and symptoms of skin cancer and when to get tested

Who is at risk of Skin Cancer?

Skin Cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK.

Rates of malignant melanoma in the UK have risen faster than any other common cancer over the last 25 years with more people dying from skin cancer than in Australia.

Cases of malignant melanoma have more than quadrupled in the last 30 years. Cancer Research UK states there were 16,602 cases of malignant melanoma and over 151,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed in 2015-17. Whilst it is good news that skin cancer survival rates have improved over this period, there are still a significant number of deaths from melanoma skin cancer every year.

The key skin cancer risks include:


Around 80% of all skin cancers are caused by over exposure to the sun and the use of sunbeds.

Skin Type

Skin cancer develops in people of all colours, from the palest to the darkest. However, skin cancer is most likely to occur in those who have fair skin, light-coloured eyes, blonde or red hair, a tendency to burn or freckle when exposed to the sun.

Family History

Anyone with a family history of skin cancer has an increased risk of developing skin cancer.


The deadliest form of skin cancer, Malignant Melanoma, is one of the most common cancers in young adults in the UK.

How to reduce your risk 

A number of changes to your lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of skin cancer including:

  • Avoid over exposure to the sun
  • Avoid the use of sunbeds
  • Wear a hat or protective clothing to protect your head, face, neck and shoulders
  • Apply a high-factor 4star + rated, waterproof sunscreen every two hours
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection
  • Move into the shade from 11.00hrs -15.00hrs when UV is strongest
  • You can read our Skin Health brochure by clicking here to find out more about your skin cancer risk, and how to reduce your risk.
  • Consider regular skin cancer screening

Be Skin Aware Reduce your Risk JPEG

What should you look out for, what are the symptoms?

Different types of skin cancer present different skin cancer symptoms but it is important to remember whatever the type of skin cancer, early detection is important.

Being familiar with your skin, i.e. how it looks and feels, is important in identifying the symptoms of skin cancer early.

Non-melanoma skin cancer signs

Most people commonly think of abnormal moles but non-melanoma skin cancer can take several forms. Signs to look out for include:

  • A white, red or pink lump that doesn’t disappear after four weeks
  • Discoloured patches on the skin that don’t heal after four weeks
  • A scaly or crusty patch of skin that doesn’t heal after four weeks
  • A sore or scab or ulcer that bleeds, hurts or itches and hasn’t healed after four weeks
  • An ulcer that doesn’t heal

Melanoma skin cancer - symptoms and mole checking

You may have some moles or dark patches on your skin that are flat or slightly raised. Usually, these will remain harmless all your life. However, moles or localised patches of normal skin that change in size, shape or colour over weeks or months in adult life should be further investigated. 

There are some clear signs that a mole could be a melanoma. You should get  your moles checked by your GP or a skin cancer specialist if you notice any of the following skin changes: 

  • Changing shape, particularly if it has an irregular outline
  • Changing colour, getting darker, becoming patchy or multi-shaded 
  • An existing mole getting bigger or a new mole growing quickly
  • If a mole starts to itch or become painful
  • If a mole is bleeding, becoming crusty and/or looks inflamed 

There is a simple ABCDE rule for mole checking:

  • Asymmetry: the two halves of your mole do not look the same
  • Border: the edges of your mole are irregular, blurred or jagged
  • Colour: the colour of your mole is uneven, with more than one shade
  • Diameter: your mole is wider than 6 mm in diameter (the size of a pencil rubber)
  • Evolving: changes in the mole over a variable time, weeks, months, years 

The ABCDE Rule Skin Cancer PNG

Why should I get tested?

Malignant Melanoma is rare but is the most serious skin cancer. Left untreated, it can spread in the body and can eventually be fatal.

Malignant melanoma is disproportionately high in younger people, but they also have the highest probability of longer-term survival from the disease. According to Cancer Research UK, five-year skin cancer survival rates are highest in the 15-39 age group for patients diagnosed between 2009-2013.

Non-melanoma skin cancer is much more common than malignant melanoma. It is usually detected at a much earlier stage and is less likely to be life-threatening. Accurate statistics about non-melanoma skin cancer are difficult to obtain as cases of this type are often dealt with in local clinics.

How can I get tested? What are the tests available and how does it work?

If you have a mole or any localised skin damage you are concerned about, or already have a diagnosis, please book a skin cancer screening appointment at one of our SkinCheck nationwide clinics. 

Check4Cancer’s SkinCheck involves a detailed examination of any skin changes/moles and a complete skin examination by experienced skin cancer nurses giving you peace of mind and ensuring early detection of any problems. Appointments are available quickly and cost £180.

If any mole/localised skin changes are suspicious and potential biopsy or removal is advised, we offer a OneStop Skin Clinic service which is a 30 to 45-minute consultation with the removal of mole or skin lesion if necessary. 

Find out more 


Book your SkinCheck appointment

Book your SkinCheck appointment

SkinCheck provides you with a thorough skin cancer examination and mole check for any suspicious moles or localised skin changes reported by consultant skin cancer specialists.