A BOOTLE woman has issued a stark warning about the symptoms of skin cancer and she mistook her own itchy patch of skin for eczema and didn’t get it checked by a doctor for two years.
Marie Savin, 55, is urging others to be vigilant when it comes to monitoring unusual patches of skin and the importance of getting a GP’s opinion after her own experience in 2015, when she dismissed her own condition as an eczema flare-up.
After noticing the itchy patch of skin on her stomach, she ignored it for two years as it continued to fade and returned, instead self-diagnosing it as eczema due to stress, which runs in her family.
It was only in 2017 after a colleague noticed an unusual patch on the side of her face and a slightly darker patch appeared on her arm, as well as her scalp, that Marie consulted her GP who eventually diagnosed her with basal cell carcinoma, a rare type of skin cancer.
Marie, who is a centre manager at Netherton Neighbourhood Centre, had Mohs surgery to remove cancerous tissue from seven areas in the back of her head, side of her face, left arm, back, right leg and two from her stomach.
She has since been diagnosed with two further basal cell carcinomas (BCC) which were removed in January this year, one on her stomach and one on her back. Marie was discharged after these scars healed but continues to check her skin for any changes.
She said: “I previously had stage 2 cervical cancer when I was 50 but I wasn’t aware of the symptoms of skin cancer. Being told that I had cancer for the second time was really difficult, but I was lucky enough to have received expert treatment and advice.
“Skin cancer is a particularly scary form of cancer as it can appear anywhere on your body as I found out. If left untreated, certain types can spread quickly and this is something I want to highlight.
“Since my diagnosis, I have encouraged my family and friends to have their moles and unusual or discoloured skin patches examined and my sister has had a BCC on her arm removed as a result. This shows how important it is that we don’t ignore the warning signs and regularly check our skin.”
Marie will support North West Cancer Research’s skin cancer campaign this summer to help raise awareness of skin cancer, its symptoms and the importance of sun protection.
Marie added: “Skin cancer is one of the biggest cancer killers in the North West and having had it myself, I realise how lucky I was to insist on a referral. There are lots of factors which can cause it, some of which are preventable.
“In my case, I was a regular user of sunbeds when I was younger as we couldn’t afford holidays, but I hadn’t realised that, despite my olive skin, it would make me more susceptible to the disease.
“Being more aware of the measures we can take to protect ourselves from getting skin cancer is really important, especially in the UK.”
North West Cancer Research’s skin cancer campaign will educate people about the early warning signs of skin cancer and the importance of visiting their GP as soon as they have any concerns.
For more information on North West Cancer Research’s skin cancer campaign and advice on skin cancer, https://nwcr.org/our-work/campaigns/skincancer/