When it comes to skin cancer, we often see statistics hit the headlines – and they rarely give cause to celebrate. Skin cancer rates are up; sunbed use is up.
And whilst we all know we ought to heed the statistics, often it’s difficult to relate them to our own lives – statistics always happen to other people.
That’s why it’s so powerful when people share their personal stories. And one woman in Cheshire, Melanie Williams, has just done just that – sharing her melanoma diagnosis on her facebook page and urging people to check their own skin. Her facebook post has been shared over 100,000 times and been picked up by international media.
Melanie’s melanoma started on the nail on her thumb and initially she thought it was a wart or a fungal infection. Fortunately Melanie didn’t ignore her symptoms and went to the doctor. Luckily the cancer has not spread but Melanie has had to have the tip of her thumb amputated.
Her goal now is to raise awareness by sharing her story. She says “I don’t want your sympathy, I want more awareness. Please go and get any changes or growths on your skin checked out, please tell people around you to get checked as well. Don’t leave it to chance or make excuses!”
At Skin Analytics, we want to make sure that people take appropriate sun protection measures. But critically we want to make sure that people know what early signs and symptoms to look for and can seek help early when treatment is most effective.
Our service is designed to help people understand their symptoms – so instead of putting off a doctor’s visit, people are able to recognise a worrying symptom and get it checked out quickly.
Here’s a reminder of what to look out for.
Keep an eye on moles that look different to your other moles. These are called dysplastic moles and are at greater risk of evolving into melanoma.
Any moles that appear newly in adulthood should be checked. The most concerning sign, however, is a changing mole. If you notice a change in colour or shape, or the mole becomes itchy, painful or starts to bleed, see a doctor as soon as you can.
If Melanie had continued to assume that her melanoma was a fungal infection, then the outcome for her could have been very different.
So if the stats don’t chime with you, learn from Melanie’s story – check your skin and if you spot anything unusual, get it checked out.