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What Are Skin Cancers and Melanomas?

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK. Most skin cancers can be cured, however, if they are detected early.

Skin cancer occurs when the genetic material inside the cells changes, causing an alteration in how cells behave. They can increase in size and number, leading to the development of a tumour.

There are two types of skin cancer:

Melanoma: the most dangerous of all skin cancers, these can develop from existing moles or more commonly (~70%) develop as new standalone marks on the skin. They can appear anywhere on the body, but are most frequently found on the face, legs, arms and trunk, or other areas exposed to the sun. They account for 3% of all cancers diagnosed each year.

Non – melanoma: these are more common than melanomas, and are typically slightly less serious as they are less likely to spread to other parts of the boy. They are not connected to moles, and are found commonly in two forms:  

  • Basal cell carcinoma, or ‘BCC’: the most common of the two
  • Squamous cell carcinoma, or ‘SCC’: the more dangerous, and likely to spread to other parts of the body 

If you suspect you have any form of skin cancer, you must speak to your dermatologist or GP immediately and seek a specialist assessment.

If they do turn out to be cancerous, they must be removed immediately via surgical excision or Mohs surgery.

At the Cadogan Clinic, we offer a 'see & treat' approach, which means a potential skin cancer can be assessed by a specialist dermatologist and then removed in the same visit at one of our on-site theatres, if removal is indicated.

This means you can go from first noticing a suspicious mole or cancerous blemish on your skin, to being cancer-free within 24 hours.

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Consultants

We have invited a selection of the country's very best consultants to join us at the Cadogan Clinic so that you can be sure that whatever the nature of your treatment, you will be seeing one of the top practitioners in the country.

Dr Kristina Semkova

Specialist Dermatologist

Dr Kristina Semkova is a fully qualified Specialist Dermatologist, registered with the General Medical Council ...

See Full Profile

Dr. Christos Tziotzios

Dermatologist / GMC: 7016972

Dr Christos Tziotzios specialises in scalp, hair and nail disorders, alongside his general medical dermatology practice...

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Dr. Amélie Seghers

Consultant Dermatologist / 7068685

Dr Amélie Seghers is a consultant dermatologist who sees adults and children of any age with all kinds of dermatological conditions....

See Full Profile
See all Consultants

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What symptoms should I look for?

We recommend you seek professional attention for any of your moles if you notice one or more of the following symptoms:

Our ABCDE Mole Checklist

Below is a helpful checklist you can go through at home, but it's always recommended to book in with a doctor if you have any changes to your moles or freckles, or if you suspect any of them may be cancerous and good candidates for removal.

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To enquire about a consultation with a Skin Cancers and Melanomas specialist, please complete the form:

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If you have any questions or queries please call to speak to one of our advisors or request a call back to speak at a time that suits you.

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What should I do if I suspect I have a skin cancer or melanoma?

If you suspect you have any form of skin cancer, you must speak to your dermatologist or GP immediately and seek a specialist assessment.

Following assessment, your dermatologist will recommend removing the potential skin cancer for any of the following main reasons

Skin Cancer & Melanoma Removal at Cadogan Clinic

At the Cadogan Clinic we have assembled a leading team of dermatologists, skin cancer specialists and plastic surgeons to ensure that your skin cancer can be properly monitored and swiftly removed with minimal scarring.

What makes our skin cancer service different?

The Cadogan Clinic Skin Cancer service starts from £599

Testimonials

Frequently Asked Questions

There are two categories, non-melanoma skin cancer and melanoma.

The term 'non-melanoma' refers to basal cell cancers and squamous cell cancer. In the UK alone there are more than 100,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed each year.

Basal Cell Cancer (BCC) – a BCC starts in the basal layer, the lowest layer of the epidermis and is the most common type of skin cancer, accounting for 75% of all cases

  • BCC usually appears as a small, pinkish or pearly white lump with tiny surface blood vessels
  • It also can appear as a red, dry/scaly patch of skin
  • There may be brown or black spots/pigmentation within the patch
  • The lump grows slowly, becoming bigger and may begin to crust over and bleed
  • It can also develop into a non-healing ulcer

Squamous Cell Cancer (SCC) – SCC starts in the upper layers of the epidermis and is the second most common form, accounting for 25% of all cases

  • SCC usually appears as a firm pink lump with a crusted surface
  • There may be a spiky horn protruding from the top
  • There may be surface scale and rough patches on the lump
  • It will be tender to the touch, bleeding easily
  • It may develop into an ulcer

Melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer, with less than 15,000 cases diagnosed each year, but it is the deadliest. It can develop anywhere on the body but most commonly on areas of the body that have been overexposed to the sun.

There are several types of melanomas, including:

  • Superficial Spreading Melanomas – these account for around 80% of all reported cases of melanoma in the UK. They are moles that spread radially and often have an irregular edge. In the radial growth phase, they usually remain confined to the skin and have not spread, but if they begin to grow deeper they can then metastasise to other parts of the body. If you have a mole with an irregular edge, get it examined by a doctor.
  • Lentigo Maligna Melanomas – these account for around 10% of all reported cases of melanoma in the UK. They often begin looking like a freckle on the face of the elderly and enlarge slowly. If they start to grow downwards and become nodular or change shape or pigmentation it is likely that melanoma has developed.
  • Acral Lentiginous Melanoma – these are a rare type of melanoma, accounting for only 5% of all reported cases. They occur on the palms of hands, the soles of feet or around a finger/toenail.
  • Amelanotic Melanoma – these are another rare type of melanoma, accounting for only 5% of all reported cases in the UK. They may have little or no colour or may be pink or greyish spots on the skin.

Roughly 115,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, of which roughly 15,000 are melanomas.

Incidence rates have increased materially in the past decades, and have doubled since the 1990s.

Incidence rates increase the older you are, with over 25% of new cases reported in the 75 age bracket.

Roughly 2,300 people die each year in the UK of skin cancer. That's more than 6 every day and roughly 1% of all cancer deaths.

The good news is that with early detection, survival rates are high. 9 in 10 people diagnosed with melanoma survive their disease for more than ten years.

The earlier the skin cancer is detected, the better the survival rate.

Melanoma is caused when skin cells, or melanocytes, begin to grow abnormally. The single most preventable cause is too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from sunlight and there is also evidence that the use of sunbeds can cause skin cancer.

There are certain people who have a predisposition to skin cancer or are more at risk:

+ People who burn easily in the sun
+ People with past episodes of sunburn, often with blister formation and often in childhood
+ People with many moles (more than 50)
+ People who have first-degree family members who have melanomas
+ People with a weakened immune system due to diseases (e.g. HIV), or those on drugs that suppress the immune system (e.g. organ transplant patients)

Melanomas may develop as either a new mole or occur as changes in a pre-existing mole. It is the fifth most common form of skin cancer in the UK, with approximately 13,000 cases being reported each year.

More than a quarter of those cases are in people under 50 years old, which is quite young in comparison to other cancers. More than 2000 people in the UK die every year from melanoma.

There are many ways that you can reduce your risk of skin cancer.

  • Limit your exposure to UV radiation
  • Use broad-spectrum sunblock when exposed to the sun. Broad spectrum will help protect against both UVA and UVB rays
  • Use a minimum of SPF 30 in your sunblock, ensure the UVA protection is adequate as denoted by UVA and apply thickly and frequently
  • Avoid the use of sunbeds (Using sunbeds for the first time below the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma by nearly 60%
  • Perform a monthly skin self-examination looking for ABCDE of moles

ABCDE Checklist for suspicious features:

  • Asymmetry: Moles that are an irregular shape and have two different halves.
  • Border: Moles with a ragged border.
  • Colours: Moles that have a mix of two or more colours.
  • Diameter: Moles that are larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) diameter.
  • Evolution: A mole which has changed in size or shape over time.

When performing your monthly skin checks ensure you are doing it after a bath or shower, in a well-lit room, with the aid of a full-length mirror looking for any changes in moles thoroughly.

You can also self-assess yourself for risk of melanoma. The Melanoma Risk Factor Assessment checklist can tell you if you would benefit from a mole check by a dermatologist, or from more regular self-examinations.

The Melanoma Risk Factor Assessment:

  • Have you ever been sunburnt badly?
  • Does your skin burn first and then tan? Do you tan at all?
  • Do you have any outdoor hobbies?
  • Have you ever used sunbeds?
  • Have you ever lived anywhere abroad that was very hot/sunny?
  • Have you ever had a job where you worked outdoors?
  • Has anyone in your family ever had melanoma?
  • Do you wear sunblock when exposed to the sun?

If you notice any changes to a mole or a patch of skin, it is important to seek the advice of your GP or a dermatologist as soon as possible. If your regular GP has any concerns about the changes in your moles, they will refer you to a consultant dermatologist for further examination.

A dermatologist will perform a full skin examination to check all of your moles. If the dermatologist has any concerns about any unusual moles or patches of skin, they will either go on to remove (excise) the mole or take a sample of a suspicious patch of skin (biopsy) to send in for analysis.

It is important to note that not all changes to moles are the results of skin cancer. It is normal for moles to change in size, number or appearance over time, even some disappearing entirely. Hormonal changes, like those that occur with puberty or pregnancy, can also cause moles to increase in number or to become darker.

Finding skin cancer early saves lives because we are able to stop the metastasis, or spreading, of cancer to other organs or parts of the body. Skin cancer that is detected early is almost always curable.

If caught late, there is a higher chance that it has already spread through the body and affecting other organs. Thin melanomas, less than 1mm, have a 95% 5-year survival rate whereas thick melanomas, more than 4mm, have a 15-20% 5-year survival rate. Recent advances in treatment with immunotherapy have however improved these survival rates.

Performing a self-examination is key to detecting change. You can easily check yourself regularly for new growths or irregular moles - follow the ABCDE mole mapping guide.

You should speak to your GP or dermatologist immediately and seek professional advice.

The Cadogan Clinic accepts both GP referrals and self-referrals (i.e. enquiries from patients directly).

We offer a variety of techniques to remove skin cancer, ranging from traditional surgical removal to the very latest and advanced 'Mohs' surgery.

In each case, procedures typically take less than half an hour and are quick, pain-free surgical treatments that take place under local anaesthetic.

Mohs surgery is the most advanced technique in removing and treating skin cancer. This surgery is performed by removing thin layers of cancerous skin progressively and examining each layer until only cancer-free skin tissue is left.

We aim to remove as much of the cancer tissues as possible without damaging the remaining healthy tissue. Mohs Surgery allows us to verify that all cancer cells have been removed, increasing the outcome of a cure while reducing the need for another surgery or treatment.

In the past, this type of skin removal surgery was performed by a doctor creating an excision of the cancer tissues, and at the same time removing the surrounding healthy skin. Now with Mohs surgery, there is much less damaging to the surrounding healthy skin, and there are better results.

Mohs surgery is an excellent treatment for skin cancers that have a risk of recurrence, are in more sensitive areas such as the eyes, nose, ears and genitals, or for more aggressive forms of skin cancers, melanomas and carcinomas.

One of the benefits of Mohs surgery is that you most likely won't leave your appointment until all the skin cancer is removed. You will know your results right away, as the doctor will be checking every layer of tissue as they're removed. This is performed as an outpatient procedure, and you will be able to head home the same day knowing that all cancerous cells have been removed.

Mole removal with one our specialist surgical team starts from £599.

There are many ways that you can reduce your risk of skin cancer.

  • Limit your exposure to UV radiation
  • Use broad-spectrum sunblock when exposed to the sun. Broad spectrum will help protect against both UVA and UVB rays
  • Use a minimum of SPF 30 in your sunblock, ensure the UVA protection is adequate as denoted by UVA and apply thickly and frequently
  • Avoid the use of sunbeds (Using sunbeds for the first time below the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma by nearly 60%
  • Perform a monthly skin self-examination looking for ABCDE of moles

 ABCDE Checklist for suspicious features:

  • Asymmetry: Moles that are an irregular shape and have two different halves.
  • Border: Moles with a ragged border.
  • Colours: Moles that have a mix of two or more colours.
  • Diameter: Moles that are larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) diameter.
  • Evolution: A mole which has changed in size or shape over time.

When performing your monthly skin checks ensure you are doing it after a bath or shower, in a well-lit room, with the aid of a full-length mirror looking for any changes in moles thoroughly.

You can also self-assess yourself for risk of melanoma. The Melanoma Risk Factor Assessment checklist can tell you if you would benefit from a mole check by a dermatologist, or from more regular self-examinations.

The Melanoma Risk Factor Assessment:

  • Have you ever been sunburnt badly?
  • Does your skin burn first and then tan? Do you tan at all?
  • Do you have any outdoor hobbies?
  • Have you ever used sunbeds?
  • Have you ever lived anywhere abroad that was very hot/sunny?
  • Have you ever had a job where you worked outdoors?
  • Has anyone in your family ever had melanoma?
  • Do you wear sunblock when exposed to the sun?

If you notice any changes to a mole or a patch of skin, it is important to seek the advice of your GP or a dermatologist as soon as possible. If your regular GP has any concerns about the changes in your moles, they will refer you to a consultant dermatologist for further examination.

A dermatologist will perform a full skin examination to check all of your moles. If the dermatologist has any concerns about any unusual moles or patches of skin, they will either go on to remove (excise) the mole or take a sample of a suspicious patch of skin (biopsy) to send in for analysis.

It is important to note that not all changes to moles are the results of skin cancer. It is normal for moles to change in size, number or appearance over time, even some disappearing entirely. Hormonal changes, like those that occur with puberty or pregnancy, can also cause moles to increase in number or to become darker. 

Bleeding or itchy moles can occur when they have been irritated or scratched – moles catching on clothing, being cut by a razor, makeup application, scratching an insect bite and hair removal are all very common triggers. However, these are also sign that the mole is cancerous.

There are definite signs that a mole could be a melanoma and individuals should seek immediate advice from a dermatologist. If you have a new mole or a change in your moles such as bleeding, changes in shape, size or colour, itchy or painful moles- it's imperative that you seek medical advice at the earliest possible stage.

Patients should be vigilant in having moles checked annually or as advised by your dermatologist if you have a history of previously abnormal naevi (moles) or skin cancer. An early diagnosis is crucial in managing this potentially life-threatening disease; skin cancer which is detected and removed early is almost always curable.

The whole process typically takes less than half an hour, although this can be much longer for rarer, more complex cases.

Moles are usually removed under local anaesthetic. After careful examination, the area around the mole will be cleaned and a surgical drape placed around the area to ensure a sterile working area.

Your surgeon will cut all the way around the mole, typically in an oval shape. The mole(s) will be placed in a specimen jar and sent to a lab for analysis. Your surgeon will close the wound with stitches, if required, and cover it with a dressing.

You will be able to go home after your procedure and return to work. It is unusual for such a minor procedure to impact your usual activities.

If you experience any pain following your mole removal, over the counter pain relief such as Paracetamol can be used.
Results of the analysis will be shared with you by our team within 24 hours.

Sometimes your surgeon will ask you to return a few days following your mole removal to inspect the wound and change the dressing. If the wound area becomes red, swollen or bleeds be sure to contact our 24 hour on-call nursing service.

You may also be required to visit our nursing team at a later date to have your stitches removed.

The NHS no longer delivers "non-essential" mole treatments, meaning that the majority of mole removal procedures, or the removal of skin 'lumps and bumps' (e.g. warts, verrucae and skin tags), can no longer be administered for free on the NHS.

A mole that is believed to be life-threatening or cancerous can be removed on the NHS, however.

We recommend that all patients establish the exact length of the expected waiting list with your local NHS Trust. These are unfortunately currently subject to significant delays (e.g. several months or longer), due to the disruption caused by the COVID crisis.

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How to find us

The Cadogan Clinic is based at 120 Sloane Street in Chelsea, just off Sloane Square and the Kings Road.

We are accessible by all major bus routes that pass through Sloane Square and Sloane Street, as well as Sloane Square tube station.

We are just a 5 minute walk northwards up Sloane Street once you have arrived at Sloane Square.

Local pay parking is available just around the corner from the Clinic on Cadogan Gate, Cadogan Square and Cadogan Gardens. Our local residential parking zone is the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

Address: 120 Sloane Street, Chelsea, London, SW1X 9BW

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