Melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer – what’s the difference?

Caitlein Hannigan



Rates of skin cancer are increasing faster than any other cancer in the UK. Research shows that 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women will develop a form of skin cancer at least once in their lifetime.1 

In honour of Skin Cancer Awareness month, AESTHETICARE and Heliocare want to highlight the importance of everyday protection and overall skin health. 

There are two main types of skin cancer; melanoma and non-melanoma. Below we explore the differences between the two, what to look out for and how to prevent them.  

Non-melanoma skin cancer 

There are different types of non-melanoma skin cancer depending on the skin cell that is the source of the abnormality: 

  • Basal cell skin cancer / basal cell carcinoma (BCC) 
  • Squamous cell skin cancer / squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) 
  • Some other rare types 

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. In general, non-melanoma skin cancers tend to develop in areas that get regular exposure to the sun. 

What are the signs?  

The symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer are broad and varied, but things to look out for are a sore or area of skin that: 

  • Doesn’t heal within 4 weeks 
  • Looks unusual 
  • Hurts, is itchy, bleeds, crusts or scabs for more than 4 weeks 

What is melanoma skin cancer? 

Melanoma skin cancer starts in a cell called the melanocyte, which produces pigment in our skin. It happens when abnormal cells start to grow and divide in an abnormal way and can spread to other areas of the body. 

What are the signs?  

There are several signs that you can look out for when it comes to melanoma skin cancer such as:  

  • A new abnormal mole 
  • A mole that seems to be growing or changing 
  • Change to a previously normal patch of skin 

The ABCDE of melanoma is a really helpful guide to help you identify any signs of melanoma:  

  • Asymmetry – non-uniform with one half of the patch / spot looking different to the other  
  • Border – irregular or undefined border  
  • Colour – more than one colour or shade such as shades of tan, brown, black, red, white or blue 
  • Diameter – melanoma growths are usually larger than 6mm in diameter, (about the diameter of a standard pencil) 
  • Evolution – changing size, shape, texture or colour over time

What are the risks and causes of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer?

The majority of skin cancers are caused by UV radiation, so taking steps to protect your skin against the sun on a daily basis is essential. 

There are several factors that can contribute to your risk of melanoma skin cancer which are outlined below: 

Age: Your risk of melanoma increases with age, with the majority of cases occurring in people aged 75 upwards. The increase of sunny holidays and use of sunbeds has, however, caused a rise in younger people being diagnosed.  

UV light exposure: As the main cause of melanoma, high levels of unprotected UV exposure increase your risk of melanoma. UV is also emitted from sunbeds, and the use of these greatly increases your risk factor.  

Skin colour and freckling: Those with fair skin, red hair and blue eyes are more at risk as well as anyone who burns easily in the sun, and those with freckled skin. 

Those with darker skin have more natural protection against UV so their risk is lower, however while it’s less common, the same steps should be taken to protect and check the skin.   

Moles: Those with more moles are at a higher risk of melanoma and should take more care in the sun, and make sure they take the time to regularly check their moles.  

Genetics and family history: If a relative has been diagnosed with skin cancer under the age of 30, or if you have more than one close relative that has been diagnosed, statistically you are at a higher risk. This may also be linked to you sharing similar ‘high-risk skin characteristics’ as your family members.  

Medical concerns: Some diseases and medication that cause a weakened immune system can also play a part in your risk of skin cancer.


Treatment varies hugely depending on the location, type and stage of the skin cancer as well as age and overall health. Treatment options include surgery, radiotherapy, topical chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy and targeted drugs.  

Prevention is better than cure

There are simple steps that patients can take when spending time outdoors to help minimise the risk of developing skin cancer, such as:  

  • Wearing a broad brimmed hat that shades the face and neck 
  • Wearing long sleeves and trousers  
  • Wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection 
  • Seeking shade when the sun is strongest (between 11am and 3pm) 
  • Never use sunbeds  
  • Use a high-level (at least SPF30) broad-spectrum sun protection every day, regardless of the weather

Heliocare 360° – daily sun protection strategy  

UVB rays are the main cause of skin burning which causes damage to our skin cells DNA which can develop into skin cancer. UVB is mainly present in summer months, but the sun causes damage to skin every day, all year round as UVA, visible light and infrared-A (all emitted from the sun) are always present. These types of solar radiation contribute towards oxidative stress which damages our skin’s health leaving it vulnerable and more suspectable to damage. UVA and visible light are also the leading cause of premature skin ageing and pigmentation.    

Recommended by skin professionals and dermatologists, Heliocare 360° is a dermatological daily sun protection range of topical formulations and skin health supplements created by Cantabria Labs – a reputable worldwide dermatology company renowned for innovation and research.

Heliocare 360° range of products

Its topical products provide full-spectrum protection against UVA, UVB, visible light and infrared-A, and it’s also the only sun protection range that protects skin beyond sunscreen with exclusive, clinically proven Fernblock® antioxidant technology, to help prevent and repair damage to skin health caused by daylight and boost skin health.  

The Heliocare 360° range contains products suitable for all skin types, with various coverage levels and finishes, as well as unique formulations designed to help prevent and reduce the signs and symptoms of key skin concerns, so you can be confident there’s a product for your patients that they’ll love to use every day. 

Boost your patients’ protection with Heliocare 360° supplements 

The Heliocare 360° skin supplements help to boost free radical defence from within, improving skin’s overall health and giving it better capacity to protect itself.  

Containing high levels of Fernblock and additional skin-boosting ingredients, the Heliocare 360° supplement range helps to boost skin’s daily defences against free radical damage caused by daylight (UVA, UVB, visible light, infrared-A) and other environmental stressors.  

Fernblock is a supercharged antioxidant with a unique natural blend of polyphenols whose skin health protecting, repairing and boosting properties have been demonstrated in both topical and oral forms and supported in over 80 scientific publications:  

  • Protects skin against damage caused by daylight; UVA, UVB, Visible Light, Infrared-A1,2,3 
  • Prevents collagen breakdown2 
  • Protects and repairs skin cell DNA4 
  • Prevents light-induced pigmentation5 
  • Protects the skin’s immune system5 
  • Improves the efficacy of SPF filters by up to 14%6 

Designed to be used alongside topical Heliocare products, the oral supplements are the perfect addition to your patients’ sun protection regime if spending more time outside or are at high risk of developing skin cancer as discussed above.  

Save 20% on Heliocare 360° products

In honour of skin cancer awareness month, we are offering 20% off all Heliocare 360° orders* over the value of £200 from the 8th of May until the 10th of June 2024. (* Excluding testers and samples)

This limited time offer will allow you to stock up on your Heliocare 360° favourites with a significant saving, enabling you to provide not only fantastic protection for your patients with the value-added promotion.

Get involved today

Become a Heliocare Partner

Our Introduction to Heliocare 360° webinars are perfect for professional skin clinics who are new to the Heliocare brand, looking to learn more about this leading range of evidenced-based sun protection products and how to become a Heliocare Partner Clinic.


1. González S, et al. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed,1996,12(2):45-56 996 Apr;12(2):45-56.  
2. González S, Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018. Aug1;19(8):2250.  
3. Amini S, et al. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Mar;62(3):511-3.  
4. Maritza A, et al. J. Am Acad Derm, 2004. 51(6):910-8.  
5. Alonso-Lebrero JL, Photochem Photobiol B. 2003 Apr;70(1):31-7.  
6. Aguilera J,et al. Front Med (Lausanne). 2021 Jun 2;8:684665. 

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