What is it?
A type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body. It’s the fifth most common cancer in the UK.
Who gets it?
More than a quarter of cases are diagnosed in people under 50. People who are fair skinned, especially with fair or red hair, have an increased risk, so do people with a lot of freckles and moles.
What causes it?
The main risk factor is exposure to UV light from the sun and sun beds. This causes some cells in the skin to behave abnormally.
What are the symptoms?
You might notice a new mole or a change in the appearance of an existing mole. It’s important to check with your GP or dermatologist if you notice that a mole is getting bigger, changing shape, changing colour, bleeding or crusty, itchy or painful. Melanomas can appear anywhere but are most common on the back, legs, arms and face.
What are the best treatments?
Firstly, a dermatologist will examine the mole and may take a biopsy. This will be done under local anaesthetic, so it won’t hurt. If melanoma is diagnosed, surgery is the main treatment, but you may also need radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy.
"During a routine mole check, Clare identified a lesion that wasn’t normal. She removed it immediately, and I had the biopsy results within a few days. Thankfully it was caught in good time, but if Dr Clare hadn’t spotted it when she did the outcome could have been very different. I’ve been having annual checks ever since, and I always call Dr Clare if I notice any skin changes."
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