Wart or skin cancer – expert shares the tell-tale signs to spot

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From the comfort of your home to the morning tube you take to work, your skin is constantly exposed to a variety of factors.

Between tiny critters that aren’t visible to the naked eye and weather conditions, your protective layer can change and react to everything it encounters.

Dan Mullarkey, Skin Analytics Medical Director and NHS GP, said: “As we enter the summer season, we tend to become more attentive to our skin, and we may suddenly notice new marks or changes that we hadn’t observed before.

“One example of such changes is the occurrence of Seborrhoeic Keratoses (SKs), commonly known as seborrhoeic warts.”

These common growths typically appear on your skin after the age of 30 when they start becoming more prevalent.

READ MORE ‘Key’ signs of skin cancer to look out for – when to seek help from your GP

While benign problems like warts require no treatment, the presence of new growths and lesions can prompt you to think about skin cancer.

Fortunately, the expert shared how to tell apart the potentially deadly condition from benign growths.

Mullarkey said: “The presence of new warts, which can vary in colour from pink to black or brown, often leads to mistaken assumptions that they are more serious skin conditions like melanoma. 

“Fortunately, seborrhoeic warts are not a form of skin cancer and usually require no treatment.

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“While it is always advisable to consult a doctor if you have concerns about any new or changing skin lesions, seborrhoeic warts usually exhibit a distinct ‘stuck-on’ appearance and a rough surface, which is less commonly observed in cases of melanoma.”

What are the tell-tale signs of skin cancer?

The first step of detecting skin cancer is checking your skin regularly and looking out for any new or changing spots, marks, moles or growths.

Once you identify a changing or a new growth on your skin, you should follow the ABCDE checklist:

  • A – Asymmetry – do the two halves of the mole look the same?
  • B – Border – does the border look ‘ragged’ or blurred?
  • C – Colour – does it have a nice uniform colour throughout?
  • D – Diameter – have you noticed it getting larger, is it >7mm?
  • E – Expert – if in doubt get your doctor to look at it.

Once you identify anything suspicious, the expert recommended seeing your GP.

Mullarkey said: “They will typically ask you some questions about your health, family medical history, medical conditions and your symptoms and use this along with an inspection of the mole(s) you are concerned about.

“Based on their assessment, they may either provide reassurance or refer you to the local dermatology department on an urgent suspected cancer pathway.”

Depending on your diagnosis and circumstance, the doctor will then determine the best course of treatment.

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