I get asked …. Skin Cancer

Dear Diana, I have noticed small areas of skin on the front of my leg which are constantly rough and sometimes bleed a bit.  I am concerned about skin cancer. How can I tell if I might have a problem? ……Jacqui Paxman Manchester

Answer

Hello Jacqui, they may be a symptom of non-melanoma skin cancer which tends to develop, often on skin that has been over exposed to the sun.  Spots or sore places are fairly common, but when they don’t heal up after 4 weeks it may be time to get them checked out, especially if the spots or sores hurt, are itchy, crusty, they scab over or bleed.  If an area of skin is broken down (an ulcer), and you don’t remember an injury that could have caused it get it checked out. Also if you notice red itchy patches on your skin or develop small lumps which might be shiny, pink or red and grow slowly talk to your doctor.  Did you foolishly sunbathed all those years ago, or do you work outside with much of your body exposed? If so get a friend to check out your back for any skin changes. or possible skin cancers.  If these changes don’t clear up after a month or so, get your skin checked out by your doctor. It may be basal cell carcinoma which is a type of skin cancer, the most common one in the UK. It is also sometimes called a ‘rodent ulcer’. It can be treated successfully.