In many cases, skin cancers are caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds. With summer and the holiday period just around the corner, the people of Doncaster are being asked to be aware of the signs, symptoms and causes of the illness.
Nationally, seven people die of skin cancer each day, with early diagnosis being crucial to a positive outcome. New moles, or moles that have changed shape, should be checked by a practitioner to ensure there is nothing to worry about. In the past two years in Doncaster alone, skin cancer referrals to the hospital have risen nearly 40%. Currently, GPs in the area refer 1,000 people a year to the hospital for investigation.
New diagnosis technology TELEDerm has recently launched in Doncaster and can help detect cancerous moles, a symptom of skin cancer, early on. Practice staff use a special lens which clips onto a standard iPhone to take a detailed close-up photograph of a mole or lesion, which is then emailed to specialists at The Mole Clinic, 200 miles away in London.
There, experts study the high quality image and provide a diagnosis which they email back to the surgery, often on the same day and no more than two days later. They determine if the mole is potentially cancerous – in which case the GP will refer the patient straight to hospital – or if it has no risk they will be advised they have no need to worry about it.
Doncaster resident, Paul Hartshorne, 46, praised the new service: “I spotted a new mole on my back which I was a bit concerned about so I booked an appointment at the practice. The nurse took a photo of it using the iPhone and emailed it off. The practice then contacted me to say they had received the results and it was nothing to worry about, which was great news. I didn’t need a hospital appointment to get it checked out, it was all sorted at my local surgery.”
Dr Nick Tupper, chair of the CCG, said: “It is critical that people understand the signs and symptoms of skin cancer and are aware of importance of an early diagnosis. The sooner any type of cancer is detected, the better the chances are of survival. By supporting Skin Cancer Awareness Month we have the opportunity to link in with a national campaign which informs people of the dangers and causes of this illness.”
There are three different types of skin cancer: malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. Avoiding prolonged periods in the sun and applying high factor sunscreen at least 25 minutes before exposure, with regular reapplications, can help to prevent all of these.