Elena: Skin Cancer Awareness month

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May 16, 2024

This Skin Cancer Awareness month, Elena, a member of NECS Consultancy team, shares her personal experience of having skin cancer to raise awareness and understanding of it, and how it can be prevented.

Elena shares her story:

“I’ve been lucky to spend good parts of my life travelling and living abroad, and have spent a lot of my time in hot countries. However, I’ve never used sunbeds or particularly spent long periods of time sunbathing.

“In 2019, I noticed some unusual moles on my arm and both legs. They were different in colour to other moles on my body. Due to some previous knowledge of skin cancer and knowing people who had been impacted by this disease, I thought it was best to see my GP to get them checked over.

“Due to my fair skin, some family history, and the different colour of the moles, my GP referred me to the Dermatology team at my local hospital. Thankfully, the Dermatology team were able to see me quickly. Once they assessed my skin, they decided I needed three minor operations to remove some moles.

“A couple of weeks later, I returned to the hospital to have my moles removed. These were fairly quick operations, and I was back at home within a few hours. The wait for results felt long, however I received my results within six weeks and luckily no cancerous cells were found. However, the hospital still wanted to monitor my skin on a routine basis, just to be on the safe side.

“The Covid-19 pandemic hit, which slightly delayed follow up appointments, but 11 months after my surgery, I had a very thorough assessment completed by the Dermatology team. The Dermatologist had some concerns about a mole which I hadn’t recognised myself, and she decided it should be removed. I had the mole removed that same day.

“As the Dermatologist had some concerns about the mole, she sent it away to be tested. I had, what felt like another long wait for the results. A few weeks later, I received the news from the hospital that the Pathology team had reviewed my sample, and that in situ melanoma had been identified. This was difficult news to hear, however in situ (stage 0) melanoma is the most common and curable form of melanoma skin cancer. The team of specialists soon booked me in for an excision operation and thankfully no more cancer was identified.

“This really opened my eyes to the importance of seeing specialists and checking my skin regularly. Had the Dermatologist not identified that one mole that day, it would have continued growing.

“Since then, due to my routine medical and self-checks, I’ve had a number of other minor operations. This has included the identification and removal/excision of another in situ melanoma.

“I feel very grateful to the NHS for all their ongoing support – from the admin teams who helped book my appointments, to the dermatology team who see me at my appointments, and those who continue to research the disease.

“I would urge everyone to check yourself regularly, this will help you become familiar with what is normal for you. Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of skin cancer. Any skin type is at risk. If you think you have any of the symptoms, please arrange to see your GP as soon as possible. Do everything you can to prevent yourself from getting skin cancer.”