Terrifying find in woman’s ‘spot’
When Jade Offord discovered a tiny spot on her left arm, she didn't think anything of it.
That was until she noticed it began to change suddenly in colour.
The 27-year-old from Wollongong, south of Sydney, doesn't have that many freckles on her body, so when this one popped up late last year, she kept an eye on it.
As it began to get darker in colour, Ms Offord had no idea that was a sign it could be a deadly cancer.
But after spotting an advert by the Call Time on Melanoma on Instagram page, she decided to take a closer look at the tiny freckle that she described as the size of "texta dot".
"My sister-in-law showed me the Instagram page which I immediately followed because it was also such a nice account - I was getting constant reminders on my news feed that made me look at my skin closer," Ms Offord told news.com.au
"I remember thinking 'Oh god, that freckle has definitely got darker over time'.
"It wasn't something I was super conscious about, but I decided to go to a medical clinic."
While Ms Offord was at her local GP for a separate appointment she got him to take a look at her arm "for peace of mind".
"He told me it was totally fine and not to worry," Ms Offord said.
But Ms Offord wasn't satisfied and booked in to see a skin specialist two weeks later.
Results confirmed she had an atypical spitzoid - a rare form of skin cancer.
The doctor explained had she left it for two or more years she could be in "serious trouble".
"If it had spread that extra bit more, then that's my lymph nodes. And then that's essentially the road to your whole body," Ms Offord explained.
"The moment he saw it he said, 'I don't like the look of that'.
"The type I had was really rare which is why the GP probably couldn't pick it up."
Ms Offord had two procedures to remove the skin cancer, which has left her with a "large chunk" of missing skin.
She said she probably wouldn't have gone to get checked out if she hadn't followed the Instagram page, and she is now sharing her story to highlight the importance of check-ups.
"I feel really irresponsible because I should have seen a doctor right away. None of my friends do regular skin checks, it's just not something on our radar,
Ms Offord said the experience had promoted her to be more diligent.
"I now never leave the house without applying SPF50. I am more mindful in the sun too," she said.
"We are told as kids to 'slip, slop, slap' but I think we have all become a bit desensitised to it and have forgot the dangers of skin cancer and how real it is."
Earlier this month, another woman had also noticed an unusual spot on her upper lip.
Tracy French, from Arcadia in Canada, never thought anything of the light pink mark, thinking it would go away, but after a few years it still remained on her lip.
"It looked like a pimple, then it would go away, and then it would turn into a little scab and turn scaly," Ms French told KABC 7.
Ms French was later diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma - a cancer that most often forms on the head, neck and back of the hands.
According to the Cancer Council, squamous cell carcinoma accounts for about 30 per cent of non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia and appears in areas mainly exposed to the sun.
But when caught early, most SCCs are curable.
Ms French had surgery to remove the affected area above her lip and has since been declared cancer free.
But she too warns others to be more vigilant about protecting your skin.
"See your dermatologist and get your whole body checked. Because things can pop up overnight," Ms French said.
In Australia, skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers) accounts for the largest number of cancers diagnosed in Australia each year, according to the Australia Institute of Health and Welfare.
About two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70. Non-melanoma skin cancer is more common in men, with almost double the incidences compared with women.
HOW TO DETECT SKIN CANCER EARLY
The Cancer Council advises to check your skin regularly and check with your doctor if you notice any changes.
"Your doctor may perform a biopsy (remove a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope) or refer you to a specialist if he/she suspects a skin cancer," it states on the Cancer Council site.
"Skin cancers are almost always removed. In more advanced skin cancers, some of the surrounding tissue may also be removed to make sure that all of the cancerous cells have been taken out."
Skin cancer can be treated by surgery, ointments or radiotherapy. Skin cancer can also be removed with cryotherapy (using liquid nitrogen to rapidly freeze the cancer off), curettage (scraping) or cautery (burning).
For more information about skin cancer, contact the Cancer Council 13 11 20 or talk to your GP.