A dad is urging people to get their skin checked after what he thought was ‘just dry skin’ was actually deadly skin cancer.
Peter Wilson, 68, from Melbourne, Australia, had noticed a few dry patches of skin on his head, with a one-inch red spot remaining on his scalp for months.
At first he didn’t think much of it, but when the area became more inflamed and painful, he downloaded an app called SkinVision, which uses AI to identify potential risks of skin cancer.
The app suggested Peter see a doctor immediately, and in August 2019 a biopsy revealed the dad had squamos cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer that can be fatal.
Peter was booked in for surgery to remove the patch of skin in October, which saw surgeons take a skin graft from his right thigh and required 40 staples in his head.
Grandad-of-one Peter said: ‘Over a number of years I spotted some dry patches on my head and some blotches.
‘My skin has always been dry but these spots were a bit more red and angry.
‘The patches were more inflamed and didn’t go away – but I didn’t think much of it.
‘I did some research online and came across the SkinVision app and scanned the spots on my head.
‘They advised me to see a specialist, but that was something I put off for a while – my wife Isobel, 67, is a nurse and urged me to go to the doctors about it.
‘The dermatologist took a couple of biopsies from my scalp, and some from my cheek, and checked the rest of my body.
‘The biopsies came back positive for skin cancer and I was booked in for an appointment to remove this infected skin.
‘It was more than a shock – I’m a very active person and had to stop running and going to the gym for two months after surgery, I really missed it.
‘My kids were shocked and more than a little anxious and my extended family were horrified when they found out I had skin cancer.’
Peter is sharing his story to encourage others to try the SkinVision app and go to a doctor when they notice a change in their skin.
‘I’m glad I caught it early – you usually just think this is the kind of thing that only happens to other people,’ he said.
‘I was impressed by the SkinVision app and I am sure it will develop into an incredibly important tool – it saved my life.’
Peter was lucky that the cancer hadn’t spread and after the 20-minute operation is now waiting to find out whether he is at risk of developing further cases of skin cancer
If it hadn’t have been caught, the cancer could have spread throughout the dermis and caused further damage. This type of cancer can be fatal.
Peter is urging others to be wary of suspicious-looking patches of skin.
Peter said: ‘Back in the 70s and 80s when I was young, there wasn’t much information about sun protection – everyone just knew that if you stayed in the sun too long, you would get sunburnt. and we often got burnt while we were at the beach, swimming and surfing.
‘When I was at university, I used to work over the Christmas break carting hay for a contractor. I would spend about 14 to 15 hours exposed to the sun while working every day and I only wore boots, jeans and a singlet.
‘The effects of the sun back then weren’t as bad as they are today, now that the Ozone layer has been damaged over Australia.
‘I used to be pretty blasé about the sun but now I wear a hat all the time and put sunscreen on any exposed skin.
‘The fact of the matter is, the sun nowadays is fairly dangerous to skin – you’ve got to be crazy if you don’t use protection.
‘You really can’t afford to be blasé about the sun, you have to protect your skin in summer and winter.
‘Cancer is a horrible thing and [if you’re not careful] you’re at risk of dying.
‘Another warning to people is to get these suspicious things looked at early before they escalate.
‘That is where Skin Vision is really helpful – getting a quick, no fuss assessment is something that people will jump on.’
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