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Diane Cannon, from Liverpool, sadly lost her niece, Claire, nine years ago after she thought she had beaten melanoma in her early 20s.
The mum-of-two passed away in a hospice in 2013, leaving Diane and her family heartbroken but determined to raise awareness of skin cancer and how to prevent it.
But in 2020, during Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Diane found a small lump on her nostril which continued to grow in size.
After using her SkinVision app, which uses AI technology to identify whether skin spots and moles are high risk, Diane saw a doctor and was later told it was a basal cell carcinoma (BCC), or non-melanoma skin cancer.
Diane’s story comes as a global survey of 700 dermatologists shows that, compared to a normal year of performing patient skin examinations, around a third of appointments were missed, meaning a fifth of early stage melanomas may have gone undiagnosed.
Now, Melanoma UK is calling on people to join its National Mole Hunt which is in partnership with SkinVision and offers free skin cancer checks as part of their national roadshow.
“I want my story to help prevent other families going through what we have. Losing Claire shook our family to the core and skin cancer continues to loom over us, with myself and my brother being diagnosed with skin cancer in various forms. My two sisters and my father, who are no longer with us, also received diagnoses.
“To this day I continue to develop skin cancer lesions all over my body and I believe that our family holidays abroad and my teenage years of holidaying in the sun have almost certainly been a contributing factor to my family’s history of skin cancer.
“In my younger years, I loved to tan on holiday and have memories of lying in the sun all day, desperate to go a deeper colour and return to the UK looking ‘healthy’, or so I thought.
“The damage is probably already done for people of my age but my message is clear – get to know your skin. If you see something that doesn’t look right then get it checked out as quick as possible.
“Use SPF50 every day, stay away from sunbeds, and if you feel better with a tan then get it out of a bottle! Believe me – it is a lot safer.”
The Melanoma UK National Mole Hunt will combine a face-to-face consultation with a skin cancer nurse specialist and AI technology on the SkinVision smartphone app.
A mobile clinic will be situated at Liverpool ONE this weekend (27th-29th May), ready to offer advice and check people’s skin for signs of skin cancer.
And, as part of the UK-wide initiative, Melanoma UK is giving away thousands of free 7-day SkinVision licences to the public to empower people to take charge of their own skin health.
It’s estimated that around 21% of melanomas were missed in the first year of the Covid pandemic, with a 68% drop in diagnoses between March and June that year, according to the latest figures from Melanoma UK.
Almost 17,000 cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year, meaning thousands of people could be unaware they have it.
And, as Skin Cancer Awareness Month draws to a close, it is hoped the public will continue their ‘mole hunt’ throughout the year.
“Every May, our goal is to get people on their own ‘mole hunt’, encouraging them to check their skin and look out for any changes to markings on their body.
“Melanoma is one of the few cancers we can see for ourselves. That means it’s in our power to catch it early – and if we do that, we stand a better chance of dealing with it.
“The past couple of years have had a major impact on our health, not just from Covid itself but from the knock-on effect it has had. National lockdowns and pressure on healthcare systems means that melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has gone undetected and untreated.
“So we want people to get involved and help us fight back – the chances of beating melanoma are hugely increased when it’s detected early and using an app like SkinVision helps us to have access to skin experts who can identify when a mole is likely to be high risk.
“It’s vital that we get into the habit of checking our skin and taking the necessary steps to get medical advice when needed, not just during Skin Cancer Awareness Month, but all year round.”
Melanoma UK and SkinVision will be in Paradise Street, outside John Lewis, at Liverpool ONE from Friday 27th until Sunday 29th May, between 10am and 5pm.
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