A third of Irish people are “not at all worried” about skin cancer, new research, according to the Irish Cancer Society, has shown.

Describing the research as “worrying”, the society highlighted that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ireland and claims over 230 lives each year.

The research was based on a survey of 1,000 adults conducted on behalf of the Irish Cancer Society during Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May.

It also found that three in 10 people never check their skin for signs of cancer. Meanwhile, the number of people who are ‘not at all worried’ about skin cancer increases to four in 10 among some groups who are actually at higher risk, including males and those aged over 55, the organisation said.

As with all cancers, catching skin cancer early is vital for patients to have the best outcome possible.

The society outlined a list of top skin cancer warning signs to look out for, including:

  • A small lump that is smooth, pearly or waxy;
  • A new growth or sore that does not heal in a few weeks;
  • Constant skin ulcers that are not explained by other causes;
  • A flat, red spot that is scaly, crusty or bleeding;
  • A lump that is firm, scaly or has a crusted surface, and may be sore;
  • Rough, scaly, irregular patches of skin;
  • A new mole or a change in shape, size or colour of an existing mole;
  • A dark patch under your nail that gets bigger and wasn’t caused by an injury.

The Irish Cancer Society added that people should speak to their doctor if their mole is: bleeding, oozing or crusting; looking red and inflamed around the edges; or starting to feel different, for example slightly itchy or painful.

Some melanomas don’t develop from moles, so a doctor should also be consulted on any other unusual skin changes. Many skin changes will be harmless, but it’s always best to get any changes checked out. Melanoma has a very good chance of being successfully treated if diagnosed and treated early, the charity stressed.

Kevin O’Hagan, cancer prevention manager with the Irish Cancer Society, said: “We are asking everyone to be Skin Smart and know the signs of the disease.

“It is extremely treatable when picked up early, so a simple and frequent routine of checking your own skin for anything that is new, changing or unusual can be a lifesaver.

“This is particularly important for people who are at higher risk such as those aged over 50, or outdoor workers who are exposed to the sun more.

“With summer now here we are as always encouraging the public to mind their skin in the sun by seeking shade, wearing covering clothes, a hat and sunglasses as well as sunscreen on exposed skin, and knowing when the sun is strongest.”

For more information on skin cancer, to view examples of skin cancers and details on how to check your skin visit the Irish Cancer Society website here.