Cancer symptoms: Two warning signs on the face that should trigger ‘alarm bells’

This Morning: Jon Courtenay recalls skin cancer diagnosis

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Lead Screening Nurse Laura Harker said: “It’s important to say that skin cancer can affect any one.” Yet, those with a history of sunburn, sunbed use, and those with freckle and moles are at higher risk of melanoma. “These individuals therefore do need to be extra vigilant when checking their skin, moles and skin lesions,” said Harker. On the face, you need to watch out for basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

Harker explained: “BCC can visualise itself as a firm, red lump which can look sunken in the middle.”

It may also appear as a “flat red spot which is scaly and crusty”, or “a pale non-healing scar or a smooth and pearly-white bump on the skin”.

Harker added: “BCCs may also feel itchy and bleed and develop a crust or scab which doesn’t completely heal.”

Meanwhile, a SCC “can also appear as a scab, look pink or red, be raised, feel tender to touch, can look scaly or bleed occasionally”.

The skin cancer practitioner urged anybody noticing any such “alarm bells” on their face “should speak to a professional as soon as possible”.

“Caught early, skin cancer is easily treated but left late, it can be fatal,” she warned.

As the face is most often exposed to the sun, daily SPF use is recommended – regardless of the weather.

“We should be using an SPF of at least factor 30 with a four or five star UVA rating,” said Harker.

“Be generous in your application,” Harker continued. “Don’t forget to also apply to your ears and make sure your sunscreen is applied all over the face – don’t just focus on one area.”

Aside from any skin lesions, you need to be on the look out for any new or evolving moles.

“Our moles change so slowly that any changes should be hard to notice,” Harker stated.

“Therefore, if you are spotting some differences this is a good first warning sign to go get this area of skin checked out.”

Another early warning sign of skin cancer is what is known as an “ugly duckling”.

Harker explained: “This is when a mole, blemish or skin lesion looks different the other moles or blemishes around it and stands out from the other moles.

“It can be raised, ooze or be sore, varying in colour or have an asymmetric edge.”

Follow the ABCDE rule to identify an ugly duckling.

A – Asymmetry: Look for moles that are asymmetrical in shape, where one half of the mole is unlike the other.

B – Border: Does the mole have an irregular border? Is it scalloped, jagged or poorly defined?

C – Colour and Comparison: Does the mole have more than one colour and does the mole look different to your other moles?

D – Diameter: Check the diameter of the mole to see if it is bigger than 7mm (about the size of the end of a pencil).

E – Evolving: Is the mole evolving or changing size shape or colour?

Cancer Research UK reported that there are around 16,700 new melanoma skin cancer cases in the UK every year.

As the fifth most common cancer in the UK, it is important to be vigilant.

If you’re worried about a particular mole or simply after some reassurance, get yours checked at The MOLE Clinic.

Laura Harker RN is the Lead Screening Nurse at The MOLE Clinic.

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