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Skin Health Q2 2022

Skin cancer – top tips to reduce your risk and detect the early warning signs

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Ponomariova_Maria

Marie Tudor

CEO, SKCIN

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. One in five of us will develop skin cancer in our lifetime, yet around 90% of cases are preventable and 98% treatable or curable if detected and diagnosed early.


Here are our top six tips to reduce your risk and detect the early warning signs: 

1) Prevention is better than cure 

It is estimated that 90% of skin cancers are caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun and/or sun beds. To reduce your risk: 

  • Cover up with clothing, including a wide brimmed hat and quality sunglasses. 
  • Apply SPF 30+ sunscreen with 4 or 5 star UVA protection liberally to exposed skin and reapply at least every two hours. 
  • Seek shade whenever possible, particularly during peak UV hours 11am-3pm. 
  • Avoid tanning or reddening of the skin and never use sunbeds! 

2) Check the daily UV Index 

The UV Index is an international standard measurement of the strength of harmful UV radiation at a particular place and time. The higher the UV Index the less time it takes damage to occur. When UV levels reach three, sun protection measures should be implemented. 

3) Know your risk 

An individual’s personal level of risk for the development of skin cancer is based on the following key factors: age, sex, skin type, history of UV exposure, medical conditions, family history and sun protection habits. Understanding your personal level of risk, particularly if you are at greater risk is essential. 

As a rule, you should see your GP with any skin lesion that is new, looks unusual or is changing in any way.

4) Check your skin monthly for signs of change 

Conducting thorough, full-body skin examinations once a month is the smartest way to get to know your skin and identify potential abnormalities that could indicate the early signs of skin cancer. 

5) Early detection saves lives 

Skin cancer comes in many guises, so it’s wise to learn about the various forms and how they present to help you identify the early signs and symptoms when conducting your month skin checks. As a rule, you should see your GP with any skin lesion that is new, looks unusual or is changing in any way. 

6) Track and monitor lesions for signs of change 

Manage your skin checking routine by taking photos and notes of lesions to help you identify and provide evidence of changes to lesions over time. 

Learn more and take charge of your skin health and surveillance with the SKCIN APP.
Find out more at app.skcin.org

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