Skin cancer

Skin Cancer


If you notice anything unusual on your skin that doesn’t go away in four weeks, show it to your doctor. This could include:

  • A spot or sore that does not heal.
  • A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, scab, crust or bleed.
  • Areas where the skin has broken down, become an ulcer and does not heal.

It’s also important to check your moles on a regular basis. You should see your GP if you notice a mole that is:

  • Getting bigger.
  • Changing shape, particularly getting an irregular edge.
  • Changing colour – getting darker, becoming patchy or multi shaded.
  • Loss of symmetry - the two halves of your mole do not look the same.
  • Itchy or painful (for over 4 weeks).
  • Bleeding or becoming crusty (for over 4 weeks).
  • New and looks inflamed.

It might help to take a photograph of anything unusual so you can check for any changes over time.

Remember, there are many other skin conditions, so if you or someone you know has one of the symptoms above, it doesn’t mean it's cancer – it could be something else that needs treatment. Either way, the earlier you see your GP, the better.

Worried about a friend or family member?

If you know anyone with any of these symptoms, encourage them to visit their doctor. It’s probably nothing serious but it could be a sign of something that needs treatment.


  1. There are two types of skin cancer: malignant melanoma, which is less common but more serious; and non-melanoma skin cancer, which is very common but not so serious.
  2. Incidence rates of skin cancer have increased by 6% in the last 10 years.
  3. In 2017, 1,226 cases of malignant melanoma were diagnosed in Scotland.
  4. If sun bed use is started under the age of 35, the risk of developing skin cancer is doubled.

Symptom checker

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Further help

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