Skin Cancer

Some people are at more risk of developing skin cancer: skin colour, tendency to burn rather than tan, episodes of sunburn, freckling, working outside and outdoor hobbies, using sunbeds - these things may contribute to "increased risk".
If you have a mole, freckle or patch of skin that changes shape, size or colour, then go and see your doctor as soon as possible.
Any change that occurs quickly (over weeks or months) should be taken seriously.

SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE - don't dismiss it as nothing or worry that you'll be wasting your GP's time. Your doctor will be able to either reassure you that your problem is not serious or refer you to a skin specialist for assessment.
Not all skin changes are cancer. There are lots of other reasons that skin changes - seeking medical advice is the first step to resolution.

W h a t  W e  C a n  D o

As hair and make-up artists, we come into contact with someone's skin every time we work - and this puts us in a good position to notice anything unusual on their skin.

However, we are not doctors; we cannot diagnose, nor should we try, but when we spot a patch of skin or a mole that doesn't look right, we can encourage that person to seek medical advice.

Knowing a little about skin cancer, the signs to look for and suggesting that someone sees a doctor could help save their life.

To help us help our clients, the Melanoma Taskforce has produced the MOLE & SKIN

CHECK GUIDELINES. Download the free guide and help make a difference.
A person will die from skin cancer every four hours in the UK and a new case is diagnosed every four minutes. And as many as four out of five cases are preventable.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK and rates of melanoma, its deadliest form, have more than quadrupled in the last 30 years.

According to figures published by Cancer Research UK in 2011, An estimated 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year, making it the most common type of cancer;

In 2008, 11,767 people were diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, representing a quadrupling of the disease’s incidence in the UK since the1970s;

The rate of melanoma has risen faster than any other type of cancer in the UK;

The majority of cases of skin cancer are preventable;

The main cause of skin cancer is too much UV light from the sun or sunbeds;

In 2008, over 2,500 people in the UK died from skin cancer  and there is evidence that this figure will continue to rise as young people who have experienced sun damage through over-exposure to the sun and sunbeds have an increased chance of developing skin cancer later on in life;

Melanoma is now the second most common cancer in young adults, aged between 15 and 34, while almost one third of all cases occur in people under 50.


The most serious type of skin cancer. In most cases, it is caused by over-exposure to UV radiation from the sun or sunbeds.

If untreated, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and it can be fatal. It accounts for most of the deaths caused by skin cancer.

The earlier melanoma is detected and treated, the better the chances of a good outcome.


Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is much more common and more easily treatable. The two forms of NMSC are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

BASAL CELL CANCER is more common and usually grows quite slowly and often starts as a small round or flattened lump. The lump may be red, pale or pearly in colour. Sometimes it appears as a scaly, eczema-like patch on the skin.

SQUAMOUS CELL CANCER is more serious and if left untreated can spread to other parts of the body. It can appear as persistent red scaly spots, lumps, sores or ulcers, which may bleed easily.

Skin cancer can appear anywhere on the body, with certain areas being more common than others.

Malignant melanoma usually develops in the outer layer of skin. It appears most commonly on women's legs and men's torsos.

Areas of the body that are usually covered but every so often get exposed to intense bursts of UV radiation while sunbathing or on a sunbed are at risk.

Non-melanoma skin cancers can appear anywhere on the body, and commonly appears on parts of the body that are regularly exposed to the sun, such as the head and neck (including lips and ears) and the backs of the hands.

Squamous cell cancer can also crop up where the skin has been damaged by X-rays, and on old scars, ulcers, burns and persistent chronic wounds.

There are two types of skin cancer:   malignant melanoma   and non-melanoma skin cancer.
If skin cancer is found at an early stage, it is easier to treat, and the chances of survival are much better. By knowing what to look for and by knowing what to do if you are concerned about a change in your skin could save your life.


The British Association of Dermatologists’ ABCDE guide tells you a few of the signs in a mole that might indicate a melanoma:

Asymmetry - The two halves of the area may differ in shape.

Border - The outside edges of the area may be irregular or blurred, and sometimes show notches or look ragged.

Colour - This may be uneven and patchy. Different shades of black, brown and pink may be seen.

Diameter - Most, but not all, melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter. Report any change in size or diameter to your doctor.

Expert - Look out for change and get it checked. Anyone can get a suspicious mole or patch of skin looked at free of charge through the NHS by visiting their GP.

The main cause of skin cancer is exposure to too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and sunbeds.




As hair and make-up artists we come into close contact with people's skin. Therefore, we are in a good position to notice anything unusual. The Melanoma Taskforce in association with British Association of Dermatologists has produced a free guide to help us to encourage people to seek medical advice when we spot a mole or skin patch that doesn't look right.


For more information on skin cancer, what to look for and who is most at risk, go to the following organisations' websites:


For more information on the different types of skin cancer:

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