An Australian couple is using social media to candidly discuss melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer — and encouraging folks to get their skin checked for signs of the disease.
The posts were written by Fallon Glossop, of Perth, and shared on the accounts of her skincare salon. Her husband, Ryan, was diagnosed with melanoma after having a harmless-looking spot checked out by a doctor.
“After 40 odd biopsies of his neck and back, 1 of his lung and 4 surgeries, what started out so small, turned into something that none of us were ready for,” Glossop wrote on Instagram and Facebook.
She shared photos of the suspicious skin spot and the results of the many biopsies and surgeries with the posts. (Note to sensitive readers: The photo of Ryan’s neck and back after a major surgery may be upsetting — scroll through with caution.)
The spot was initially diagnosed as a nevus spilus lesion. These speckled moles do not always evolve into melanoma, but that’s unfortunately what happened to Ryan Glossop.
Dr. Adam Friedman, a professor and interim chair of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, told “Today” that the lesion in the photo looks a little suspicious, but there’s a key factor you can’t see in a photo: changes in the mole. (Friedman didn’t treat Glossop.)
“A picture cannot capture change over time, which I think is an important feature to consider,” he said. “Is a spot growing or shrinking, lighter or darker, symmetric or asymmetric?”
That’s why it’s essential to get your skin examined by a dermatologist, especially if you see anything unusual. Giving yourself a regular checkup is an important practice for noting changes in skin, too. (For pointers, check out our guide to self-examining your skin.)
In the U.S., almost 96,500 new melanomas will be diagnosed in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society. About 7,230 people will die of melanoma this year. Rates of it are increasing overall, with more younger people being affected. The main risk factors for this condition are sun exposure and the presence of moles, but older males with a history of melanoma in the family and fair skin are especially susceptible.
Prevention, as always, is preferred: Wear sunscreen rated SPF 30 and above, and make sure to care for all exposed skin — including spots like the hands and the back of the neck.
After their ordeal, Fallon Glossop’s advice boiled down to a simple sentence on her social posts: “Your life is too precious to just bake yourself in the sun and not worry about your skin.”
Thanks to Glossop for her warning — and for caring!