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Stephanie Beacham, 73, felt “numb but not frightened” when she was told of her first skin cancer diagnosis. Witnessing friends battling “more serious cancers” she said: “You do what you have to do, make an appointment with the nearest good skin doctor and get it sorted…I’d feel like a fraud to exaggerate mine.”
But Beacham’s skin cancer was first spotted by her partner Dr Bernie Greenwood.
“What happened with me was that I’d had a small sore spot on my nose that had been irritating me for a while but I’d dismissed it as nothing when my partner Bernie started staring at me intently,” she revealed to Mirror.co.uk.
“I assumed he was about to tell me how lovely I was but he said: ‘You’ve got skin cancer on your nose’.”
A biopsy confirmed the lesion, about the size of a fingernail, was a basal cell carcinoma.
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Basal cell carcinoma is classed as a non-melanoma – a more common type of skin cancer.
The less common skin cancer known as melanoma can be more serious.
Beacham continued: “I was incredibly grateful it wasn’t anything more serious and after having it surgically removed under local anaesthetic it scabbed up, healed and that was it.
“It was no big deal but ever since then I’ve piled on the factor 50 sunscreen and I deeply regret the many hours I spent sunbathing in the past, damaging my skin – my neck and chest are ruined.
“I’d urge anyone to stay out of the sun between noon and 4pm. Enjoy the warmth but do it in the early morning or late afternoon as it’ll just age you.”
In 2011, Beacham’s skin cancer resurged – a crusty patch appeared in the same spot on her nose.
She explained: “It wasn’t a mole or a bump so I just covered it in make-up and foolishly ignored it until once again Bernie realised that some cancerous cells had remained.”
Beacham underwent photodynamic light therapy, which destroyed the tumour, and she was given the all clear.
What does a basal cell carcinoma (BCC) look like?
BBC usually appears as a small, shiny pink or pearly-white lump with a translucent or waxy appearance, according to the NHS. It can also look like a red, scaly patch.
It adds: “There’s sometimes some brown or black pigment within the patch.
“The lump slowly gets bigger and may become crusty, bleed or develop into a painless ulcer.
“Basal cell carcinoma does not usually spread to other parts of the body.
“There’s a small risk (up to 5 percent) of squamous cell carcinoma spreading to other parts of the body, usually the lymph nodes (small glands found throughout your body).”
A diagnosis of non-melanoma skin cancer usually begins with a visit to a GP, who will then examine your skin and decide whether you need further assessment by a specialist.
The specialist should be able to confirm the diagnosis by doing a physical examination.
But they may also do a biopsy – a minor surgical procedure where either part or all of the tumour is removed so it can be studied under a microscope.
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