How To Spot Skin Cancer


We know skin cancer can feel like a frightening thing, especially if you aren’t sure whether you have it. We’ll talk through what it looks like, who’s at risk, and what skin cancer treatment might involve in today’s post. But, we’d stress that booking in with us for skin cancer screening at our dermatology clinic near Elstree is a really important step in diagnosing whether you have skin cancer, and of course in putting your mind at ease.


Types of skin cancer


There are different types of skin cancer. In today’s post, our dermatologists focus on squamous and basal cell carcinomas. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) accounts for around 80% of skin cancers and is the most common, while squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common.


Squamous cell carcinoma


This usually appears as a scaly or crusty area of skin or a lump, with a red, inflamed base. Some may feel pain, while others don’t. To check whether it’s cancerous, a biopsy is needed. 


Basal cell carcinoma


This usually appears as a scab that won’t heal and may occasionally bleed. While some may appear flat and red, others have a pear-like rim surrounding a central crater. Others appear as lumps or shiny nodules. Some may feel pain, while others don’t. To check whether it’s cancerous, a biopsy is needed.


Those at risk


For both types of cancer, those with outdoor jobs; those with fair skin; and those with previous UV treatments may be at risk. For squamous cell carcinoma, older people and those with compromised immune systems may also be at risk. 


Skin cancer treatment


Treatment depends on the type of skin cancer you have, which areas are affected, and how long you’ve left it untreated. Treatment may involve scraping, cutting or freezing the cells. Other skin cancer treatments, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, are generally for more advanced cancers. For basal cell carcinoma, topical creams and phototherapy may also be prescribed. Our dermatologist will talk you through your options during your consultation.


Skin cancer prevention


It’s not always possible to prevent skin cancer, but there are things you can do to help lower the risk. One of the best things you can do is to protect your skin from the sun. Examples include avoiding tanning beds, using sun cream, covering the skin in the sun and seeking shade when the sun is at its hottest.


Book skin cancer treatment


Get in touch with our dermatology clinic near Elstree to find out your next steps and how we can help with skin cancer screening and skin cancer treatment.