This Morning: Jon Courtenay recalls skin cancer diagnosis
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Cancer continues to wreak havoc on countries worldwide, particularly after the pandemic caused significant delays to life-saving treatments. Early detection of cancer, however, can significantly alter the outcome of the disease. Health bodies have highlighted a wide range of symptoms to look out for. Now, they have pointed out that signs on the nails should also ring alarm bells.
Figures released earlier this year revealed that more than 100,00 people missed out on being referred to hospitals with potential skin cancer in 2020.
Melanoma, one of the deadliest types of skin cancer, is the fastest-growing form of the disease.
Rates of the condition in British patients have doubled in the past two decades, and are expected to grow further as a result of missed referrals.
When diagnosed and treated early, however, surgery will often send a large number of cases into remission.
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The most common signs of the condition typically occur on the surface of the skin, in the form of a mole or a sore.
However, some signs in the nails could also be an early warning sign, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
A blog entry on the Harvard Health website states: “The American Academy of Dermatology [AAD] is encouraging people to examine not only their skin but also their nails for signs of cancer.
“Melanoma can develop under and around the fingernails and toenails.”
“It often appears on the thumb or big toe of your dominant hand or foot, according to the AAD.
“Signs of melanoma and around the nails include a brown or black streak under the nail, a bump or nodule under the nail, darker skin around the nail, a nail that is lifting and pulling away from the nail bed, or a split down the middle of the nail.
“Melanoma becomes more common as people age and is highly treatable if detected early.”
Other changes to the skin, such as rashes, dimples or redness, are often cited as common signs of the condition.
Bleeding, ulceration and unusually itchy skin also warrant urgent medical attention.
Although these signs will appear anywhere on the body, the most commonly appear on the back in men and on the legs in women.
Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 16,200 new cancer cases and 2,300 deaths.
An analysis of NHS data revealed that referrals for patients with suspected skin cancer fell by 20 percent between March 2020 and February of this year.
According to the dermatologist’s association, May 2020 saw the steepest decline in diagnoses of melanoma cancer, with only 54 percent of the expected cases diagnosed.
By August of the same year, the figures rose slightly, to 69 percent of the expected number.
The vast majority of cases result from too much exposure to the sun, with sunburns accounting for nine in 10 cases.
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