Skin cancer deaths have risen 150% since the 1970s - these are the signs and symptoms you need to look out for

The charity warns that members of the public need to be careful about sun exposure, even in the UK (Photo: Shutterstock)The charity warns that members of the public need to be careful about sun exposure, even in the UK (Photo: Shutterstock)
The charity warns that members of the public need to be careful about sun exposure, even in the UK (Photo: Shutterstock)

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

According to figures released by Cancer Research UK, melanoma skin cancer deaths in the UK have risen dramatically since the 1970s.

The charity states that many of these deaths could have been prevented, with 86 per cent of cases linked to too much exposure to the sun, or sunbeds.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

What did the research find?

Cancer Research UK revealed that the rise is greater in men than in women, with death rates in men now three times higher than what they were in the 70s.

It explained that this could be explained in part by the fact that men are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage.

The charity also said that, since the early 1990s, melanoma incidence rates have more than doubled in the UK, which also explains the surge in deaths.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “There are many benefits to going outside, felt now more than ever because of sustained periods of lockdown.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“But something we should all be aware of is sun safety and how to reduce our risk of melanoma.”

Mitchell explains that even though most summer holidays abroad have been rescheduled, you can still get burnt by the sun in the UK.

Symptoms to look out for

Cancer Research UK has lots of resources on its website about all kinds of cancer.

According to the charity, common symptoms of skin cancer include a sore or area of skin that:

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
  • Doesn’t heal within four weeks
  • Looks unusual
  • Hurts, is itchy, bleeds, crusts or scabs for more than four weeks

These are the things to look out for, according to Cancer Research UK:

  • A sore that doesn’t heal - the sore can look see through, shiny and peak or pearly white. They can also look red. It may feel sore, rough and have raised edges
  • An ulcer, which is an area of skin that has broken down, and that doesn’t heal within four weeks
  • A lump - this could be small, slow growing, shiny and pink or red
  • Red patches on your skin, which could also be itchy - however, this could be due to other non cancerous skin conditions, but you should get it checked out anyway to make sure
  • Freckles or moles - a change to a mole or freckle could be a sign of skin cancer called melanoma

You should speak to your GP if you have any of these symptoms, or are worried about any abnormal areas of skin.

The Cancer Research UK website also has a gallery of what skin cancer can look like, which could prove helpful if you’re not sure.


Cancer Research UK says “you usually have surgery to treat skin cancer, but you might have another treatment” depending on a variety of factors, such as where the cancer is, how big it is and your health in general.

Treatment options could include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiotherapy, which uses high energy waves similar to x-rays to kill cancer cells
  • Imiquimod cream
  • Photodynamic therapy which uses a drug and a special type of light to destroy cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy