Interview transcription:

We interviewed Dr Penelope Pratsou to learn about the causes of skin cancer. 

What causes skin cancer, known as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma?

Penelope Pratsou: It’s important to say that those are two separate forms of skin cancer, but we group them together to talk about the non-melanoma types of skin cancer. In fact, they’re the two commonest types of skin cancer that we see. We might see a basal cell carcinoma growing very slowly as a red nodule on a sun-exposed part of your skin that is painless and can bleed, scab and can grow over the course of months to years. 

The first step to feeling in charge of your skin is to book an initial consultation


Penelope Pratsou: With a squamous cell carcinoma, it would be a similar appearance, but it would grow much faster and could be painful. They’re both conditions that can be caused by a combination of fair skin and sun exposure; mainly ultra-violet light exposure. It also depends on the risk factors that you might have. You might have excessive light exposure as a result of your job, you may have lived abroad, you may have a lot of outdoor hobbies and, essentially, you may have been on this earth for longer and therefore exposed to more sunlight. We do tend to see these conditions in middle age, onwards. Those are the main causes of these types of skin cancer.

If you have any of the symptoms or conditions that we’ve just discussed, we invite you to book a consultation with Dr Penelope Pratsou where she’ll be able to assess your condition and give you a suitable treatment plan.

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About the author

Dr Penelope Pratsou | Consultant Dermatologist

MBChB, MRCP (UK) (Dermatology)

I’m Dr Penelope Pratsou, a skilled independent Consultant Dermatologist based in Berkshire. I have specialist expertise in the diagnosis and management of all skin cancers, and in performing mole checks. I’m a trained skin surgeon and remove skin cancers, moles, skin tags, cysts and warts.

I also have invaluable experience in dealing with all skin conditions, from the common skin complaints of acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis, to the rarer and more complex skin problems, having seen it all through years of NHS work.

After I obtained my Membership to the Royal College of Physicians, I undertook rigorous specialist training in dermatology, before being appointed as a Consultant Dermatologist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading. There, I helped set up and lead a busy clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of suspected skin cancer. I was also actively involved in supervising and training both dermatology and GP trainees.

Alongside my increasingly busy private practice, I have maintained an NHS practice in Oxford in order to continue to engage with challenging cases and to develop my specialist interest in skin allergy.