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September 15, 2022

Consultant Blames Pandemic For Drop In Melanoma Diagnoses

Wayne Jaffe, a consultant at University Hospital of North Midlands (UHNM), said his team were now seeing people who have more advanced stages of the disease.

Figures show that melanoma diagnoses fell by almost 30% nationally, between April and November 2020 and Charity Melanoma UK has said it was vital people keep checking their skin.

Jayne Reeves, from Sheldon, in Birmingham, diagnosed with melanoma - the most serious type of skin cancer - in February. Initially, she did not see a GP during the pandemic and then struggled to get an appointment.

She said that last year she noticed that the mole she had on her led since she was a child has increased. She however did not get medical help until December and it took five months before her first can was taken. This she believed was as a result of the pandemic.

She said: "I admit I didn't go to the GP at first. I didn't want to trouble them with the pandemic and stuff, but then I really struggled to get an appointment and had to send in some pictures."

She however had it removed later as well as part of her quad muscle and some lymph nodes. Since then, she has been having scans every three months to check the cancer has not spread.

She added: "I'm really anxious and worried that it could show up on a scan. Even though it hasn't yet, I've been told there's a chance it could."

The British Association of Dermatologists said there was "grave concern" about the number of patients potentially missed during the pandemic.

Consultant Wayne Jaffe, a plastic surgeon said mixed messages may have caused people to not seek treatment. He said: "I think people found it difficult to get to the GP, that is true. So [the message was] only contact your GP if you really think it's something serious, because everyone's struggling with the pandemic.”

"So, there were sort of mixed messages and people thought 'well it's only a mole, I'll leave it'. Members of our skin cancer MDT team do think we are seeing an increased number of patients with advanced disease, sometimes inoperable disease."

According to statistics, about 2,300 people die from melanoma in the UK every year but Cancer Research UK, said about 86% of cases were preventable.

Founder of Melanoma UK, Gillian Nuttall, advises people to have their skin checked if they notice that their skin or mole changed.

She said; "We want everyone to look at their skin and notice differences. If there's a blemish, something you're not happy about, chances are it needs looking at. Hopefully it's nothing but go and get it checked."

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