Hotter Summers May Fuel Increase In Skin Cancer

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01 September, 2022

Leonie Millard

I hope everyone is enjoying the wonderful weather. I have always been a big fan of the sunshine and outdoors, but with soaring temperatures and high UV index, I hope that we are all taking precautions?

Experts recommend taking precautions for anything over index level 3.

I am telling you this because my dad is from the generation that did not bother with sunscreen. He lived in Australia and New Zealand, and just went red. This all changed when my dad got skin cancer a couple of years ago which progressed to a grade 3, but I am so pleased that he is still here to tell the tale.

When I recently saw him in the garden he was wearing a cap, long sleeves and trousers and sitting in the shade, reading his paper. Before I left he showed me an article in the consumer group magazine ' Which' . The review was on the most effective sunscreens. He was very pleased that it was not a high end expensive brand that featured at the top of the list but Asda was at the top of the leader board, which means you do not have to spend a fortune to stay safe.

My dads skin cancer story

My dad went to the GP with a growth on the top of his thigh. He arranged to see a doctor in the surgery during lockdown. My mum had sent a picture and measurement prior to the appointment. The doctor reassured him that if he had not heard anything within 3-4 days he had nothing to worry about. He did not hear anything and assumed that all was well. It wasn't, it started to bleed and he arranged a Zoom consultation with his own GP. Immediately, on seeing it, he invited him into the surgery. It needed excision and an appointment was arranged with another doctor. Unfortunately, that doctor was going on holiday for 2 weeks and did not cut it out.

When that appointment arrived it took 6 weeks for the results of the biopsy to be reported. The news was, that it was a malignant melanoma.

Thereafter, an appointment was made with referral to Preston Plastic Surgery department. The treatment at the hospital has been faultless. He was hit with a barrage of scans and underwent a further operation because the cancer had travelled to a lymph node in his groin. He was then placed on chemotherapy and monitored regularly with echocardiogram every month. He also underwent blood tests and body scans every 3 months. The chemotherapy was carefully regulated and had to be stopped in order to preserve his heart. He goes for another CT body scan shortly, but this is a stark reminder that prevention is better than cure.

Mole and Melanoma Guidance

Doctors have warned that the hotter summers we have been experiencing may cause an increase in skin cancers. Last month the UK recorded its highest temperature on record which climate scientists have warned is not a one off and may become more frequent.* As summer comes to an end we urge you to do a skin health check. The NHS have a ABCDE checklist that doctors use to tell the difference between a normal mole and a melanoma. The features to look for are;

  • Asymmetrical - melanomas are usually an irregular shape
  • Border - melanomas usually have a notched or ragged border
  • Colour - melanomas will usually be a mix of colours
  • Diameter - melanomas are usually larger than 6mm
  • Evolving - mole that changes over time is likely to be a melanoma.

Recently, A BBC journalist, Sarah Lee, 29 has written about her ordeal with skin cancer. She was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma, having developed moles on the top of her head. The doctor diagnosed it as fungus. She was seen by 3 different doctors over 5 months before she was referred. Consequently, she had 24 lymph nodes removed and a neck dissection, because the cancer had travelled there.

If you have any concerns about a changing mole, or a new mark (if you are not sure what it is), see your GP without delay. Be insistent, not stoical , and get it checked out.

*Hotter summers may fuel increase in skin cancers, doctors warn | Skin cancer | The Guardian

For more information contact Leonie Millard in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01254 770517. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Clinical Negligence department here

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