56-year-old Alison Ingleby recently had concerns about a change in colour of a large area of pigmentation on her chest. As all areas of the NHS across Lancashire and South Cumbria had quickly adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic, Alison’s GP was able to examine her through a video consultation and quickly referred her to a specialist for a biopsy.
“I noticed a new lump had appeared on my neck, and a large area of pigmentation on my chest had turned a pink/red colour. In my 20s, I had Basal Cell Carcinomas (the most common form of skin cancer), so I knew what signs to look out for and thought this could potentially be a sign of cancer.
“As this was during the coronavirus lockdown, I called my GP practice for advice. A video call was set up that very same day so my GP could examine the areas I was concerned about. I was referred to a specialist for an urgent face-to-face consultation at Burnley Hospital only 15 days later.”
The following month, Alison went back to the hospital for a biopsy, and is now awaiting her results.
Doctors across the country were concerned by the sharp fall in the number of patients coming forward with suspected cancer at the start the coronavirus outbreak, although this has now improved for most types of cancer.
Measures are in place across hospitals, GP practices and pharmacies to allow people to access care safely if they need to be seen face-to-face. Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Alliance are coordinating cancer care and services across the area.
Dr Neil Smith, Primary Care Director and Cancer Research UK GP for Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Alliance, said:
“Melanin is the pigment which determines the colour of our skin, and some of us have birthmarks or moles where there are areas of higher melanin. Sun exposure and hormonal influences can trigger an increase in melanin, so freckles and ‘sunspots’ can appear at a later age.
“If you have moles, you should check them regularly for any changes in colour, texture or size. The NHS is still here for you, and your GP can arrange further investigations if they suspect any kind of cancer.
“Early diagnosis of cancer saves lives. Let’s talk cancer.”
“Video consultation was a quick, easy way for me to access my GP appointment without having to schedule time off work. I just had to download an app on my phone, but I found it easy to use and the GP practice staff were at hand to help.
“I’d encourage anyone who has signs, symptoms or worries about possible cancer not to delay and to contact their GP right away.”
To watch Alison’s video about her experience having cancer investigations during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit: https://youtu.be/TWAcdiHDaZU
To view Dr Neil Smith’s video about cancer signs and symptoms, visit: https://youtu.be/HAVkX90rTZw