What are the symptoms of skin cancer? Coleen Nolan reveals diagnosis

Coleen Nolan has revealed she has been diagnosed with skin cancer. (ITV)
Coleen Nolan has revealed she has been diagnosed with skin cancer. (ITV)

Loose Women star Coleen Nolan has revealed she has been diagnosed with skin cancer at the age of 58.

Speaking on Monday’s edition of Loose Women, she said doctors discovered she had the common skin cancer basal cell carcinoma.

It was one of her sister’s — Maureen Nolan — who alerted Coleen to the “tiny bit of skin” on her shoulder that was “a bit red”, before she decided to get it looked at by her doctor.

She explained: “I went back in and he was very good and he said, ‘Look, it’s nothing to worry about. It is actually a cancer that doesn’t necessarily spread, but you do need to treat it and we’ll try it with cream and then the chemo cream and then, if that doesn’t work, we’ll cut it out and give you a skin graft’.

“It was so shocking my first instinct, typical me, was to laugh hysterically because I just thought, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard anybody say because I’m sick of cancer.”

It comes after Cancer Research UK said cases of the disease were at a record high in the UK across all age groups, particularly adults aged 55 and over.

The boom of cheap package holidays in the 1960s has been linked to a rise in a serious type of skin cancer among older adults.

It said that melanoma skin cancer diagnoses across all age groups have reached a record high — with 17,500 people diagnosed each year in the UK.

What is skin cancer?

The NHS says there are two types — melanoma and non-melanoma.


A new mole or a change in the appearance of an existing mole is frequently the first indication of skin cancer.

Normal moles are typically round or oval, have a smooth edge, and have a diameter of no more than six millimetres.

However, size alone does not always indicate skin cancer. A cancerous mole can have a diameter of less than 6mm, and a healthy mole can be larger than this.

Signs to look out for include a mole that’s:

  • getting bigger

  • changing shape

  • changing colour

  • bleeding or becoming crusty

  • itchy or sore

It can appear anywhere on your body. But it most commonly appears on the back in men and on the legs in women. It can also appear in the mouth, on the bottom of the foot, under the nail, or in the vaginal region, but these melanomas are uncommon.


The term non-melanoma distinguishes these more common types of skin cancer from the less common type known as melanoma, which can be more serious.

The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or discoloured patch on the skin that persists after a few weeks and slowly progresses over months or sometimes years. This is the cancer, or tumour.

How does skin cancer start?

Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the main cause of both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. UV light comes from the sun, as well as from artificial tanning sunbeds and sunlamps.

Other risk factors that can increase your chances of developing non-melanoma skin cancer include: a previous non-melanoma skin cancer; a family history; pale skin that burns easily; a large number of moles or freckles; taking medicine that suppresses your immune system; and a co-existing medical condition that suppresses your immune system.

How and why have rates increased?

Case rates among adults aged over 55 have risen by 195 per cent since the 1990s – between 1993 and 1995 21.3 people aged 55 and over were diagnosed with melanoma out of every 100,000, this rose to 62.9 cases per 100,000 in 2017-2019.

“The rise in rates in over-55s is likely to be linked to trends to have tanned skin and the cheap package holiday boom dating from the 1960s before people became more aware of skin cancer,” Cancer Research UK said.

The charity has estimated that across all age groups, melanoma skin cancer cases could increase by around 50% over the next 20 years, hitting a record 26,500 a year by 2040.

But despite the rise in cases, deaths from the disease are decreasing, it said.

Is skin cancer curable?

A GP can examine your skin for signs of cancer. They may refer you to a dermatologist or a specialist plastic surgeon if they’re unsure or suspect skin cancer.

Melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer can often be treated. The treatment you have will depend on where the cancer is, if it has spread, and your general health. Surgery is the main treatment for melanoma. Radiotherapy, medicines, and chemotherapy are also sometimes used.

It could be challenging to treat advanced melanoma if you have been diagnosed. The cancer might not be treatable.

Your treatment in this case will focus on reducing the cancer and its symptoms while also extending your life.

What is the skin cancer survival rate in the UK?

Cancer Research UK said almost all (98.2 per cent) of people diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer in England survived their disease for one year or more between 2013 and 2017.

Also in this period, around nine in 10 (91.3 per cent) of people diagnosed in England survive their disease for five years or more.