Skin cancer

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. While most skin cancer is not to do with work, there are well-recognised causes for those that are linked with occupation. The most common causes of work-related skin cancers are:

  • ultraviolet light (mainly from natural sunlight, not exclusively to do with work, but is significant for those who work outdoors);
  • ultraviolet light from sunbeds (where there may be a risk for sunbed operators and their employees). Please refer to our guidance on sunbeds for further details.
  • some chemicals (such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs] from coal tar, pitch and unrefined mineral oils);
  • ionising radiation (eg from radioactive substances and X-rays).

Some substances can get in through the skin and cause cancers in other parts of the body.

What does it look like?

There is a range of signs linked with skin cancer eg a scaly patch of hard skin, a red lump or spot, an ulcer, a new mole, or a patch of skin which bleeds, oozes or has a crust.

Is this page useful?

Updated 2021-05-04