71-year-old Brian from Lancashire noticed a couple of new itchy spots on his back, so he contacted his GP with his concerns. He was then quickly referred to the Cancer Centre at Lancashire Teaching Hospital’s for further investigations..
From April 2020 – February 2021 compared to the previous year, urgent skin cancer referrals in Lancashire and South Cumbria dropped by 14%. If this continues, more people will be diagnosed later – resulting in a lower chance of survival. Finding and treating skin cancer at an early stage saves lives.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, cancer services have remained a priority for the NHS. Investigations, diagnosis, and treatment are continuing, and local teams are working hard to ensure that the NHS is there to see patients safely.
Brian said: “I noticed three new itchy crusty spots on my back that didn’t go away after a month or so. Over a year ago I had Basal Cell Carcinomas (the most common form of skin cancer), so I knew what signs to look out for and thought this could potentially be a sign of cancer. I asked my wife to take a photo of the spots and that is when I decided to contact my GP with my concerns.
“I shared a photo of the spots with my GP which was really easy to do, and they quickly referred me to the hospital for an urgent consultation. I had a biopsy, and the results came back to say that I had melanoma (a form of skin cancer that can grow quickly and needs to be treated early) within weeks I had an operation to remove the cancer.
“During my diagnosis and treatment, I struggled with my mental health, but I had some great counselling support which really helped me to cope. Since receiving the all-clear, I am now in good health and pleased to say I have put my gardening gloves back on. I now go for an examination every 3 months with the specialist nurse team at Royal Preston Hospital who check how I’m doing mentally and physically – they have been so amazing and I’m so grateful for all they do!
“I’m so glad I spoke to my GP when I did, and we caught my cancer before it had spread. I would encourage anyone with possible signs and symptoms of cancer to contact their GP right away. Early diagnosis and treatment could save your life.”
Dr Neil Smith, local GP and Primary Care Director for Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Alliance said: “Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. This month marks Skin Cancer Awareness Month a great opportunity to talk about the signs and symptoms of this form of cancer. Common symptoms include a sore, lump, spot or an area of skin that doesn’t heal within 4 weeks, or that looks unusual, hurts, itches, bleeds, crusts or scabs.
“The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole. Look out for a mole that changes shape, size, colour or becomes itchy or bleeds.
“If you notice anything unusual for you, or you have concerns about possible signs and symptoms of cancer – you should speak to your GP. It’s probably nothing serious, but it’s important to get checked out because early diagnosis makes cancer more treatable.
“Video consultations and emailing photos from your smartphone make it even easier for you to share your concerns with your GP from the comfort of your home. If you do need a face-to-face appointment your GP is there to see you safely. GPs like me are here to help you. Let’s talk cancer.”
Watch Dr Neil Smith’s signs and symptoms of malignant melanoma cancer video:
Advice about skin cancer signs and symptoms