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Atomic Kitten Natasha Hamilton rallies country to join National Mole Hunt
Atomic Kitten star Natasha Hamilton is calling on people to get to know their skin and join Melanoma UK’s National Mole Hunt to find the ‘missing melanomas’ of the pandemic.
As a newly-appointed ambassador of the charity, the singer now wants to raise awareness of skin cancer following a surge in cases of the condition during the last two years, with more than 8,000 melanomas going undiagnosed.
Her rallying calls comes after she spotted a form of skin cancer on her mum’s face and urged her to seek medical advice and push for a diagnosis.
Natasha had been working as a skin specialist when she was giving her mum, Maria, a facial. As part of her training, she had been taught how to spot signs of skin cancer and immediately knew something was wrong.
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Natasha, 39, said: “I was giving my mum a facial when I noticed a mark on her forehead that I hadn’t seen before – when I asked her about it, she said it regularly disappeared and then came back again but had assumed it was just dry skin. Over time, I noticed that it would sometimes be bigger, a bit scaly and looked really sore so I urged her to go to the doctor and get a medical opinion.
“At the time, she was told it was nothing to worry about. Fast forward a year later and it was still there but getting bigger and more prominent – she went back to the doctor and this time got a referral to a dermatologist who then diagnosed it as a basal cell carcinoma, a form of non-melanoma skin cancer.
“She’s recently been given some cream that burns off pre-cancerous cells and then later had it cut out. Luckily, my mum’s experience was not melanoma – which is the deadliest form of skin cancer – and we were able to get it out.
“But her experience was a major wake-up call for us all, forcing us into checking our skin for markings and moles, and making sure anything new or out of the ordinary is checked out as soon as possible.”
Natasha’s story comes as an estimated 8,089 melanomas have gone undiagnosed during the pandemic, according to Melanoma UK. It’s estimated that around 21% of melanomas were missed in the first year of the Covid pandemic, with a 68% drop in diagnoses between March and June that year.
Almost 17,000 cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year, meaning thousands of people could be unaware they have it.
Mum-of-four Natasha added: “The National Mole Hunt encourages people to get to know their own skin, learn what’s normal for them and, importantly, spot any changes in colour, shape or size of moles or other markings.
“As a teenager, I remember hitting the sunbeds desperate for a tan and to look ‘healthy and glowing’. As I’ve got older and educated myself though, I slap on the factor 50 and make sure my children know how to enjoy the sunshine safely.
“I’m passionate about encouraging everyone to get involved in the National Mole Hunt and get a second – and third – opinion if needed. It really could save your life.”
The Melanoma UK National Mole Hunt is being run in conjunction with the SkinVision smartphone app, which uses AI technology to assess skin spots and moles for the most common types of skin cancer.
And, as part of the UK-wide initiative, Melanoma UK is giving away thousands of free 7-day SkinVision licences to the public to empower people to take charge of their own skin health.
Gill Nuttall, CEO of Melanoma UK, said: “Our ultimate goal is to get people on their own ‘mole hunt’, encouraging them to check their skin and look out for any changes to markings on their body, so we’re thrilled to welcome Natasha aboard our hunt.
“Melanoma is one of the few cancers we can see for ourselves. That means it’s in our power to catch it early – and if we do that, we stand a better chance of dealing with it.
“The past couple of years have had a major impact on our health, not just from Covid itself but from the knock-on effect it has had. National lockdowns and pressure on healthcare systems means that melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has gone undetected and untreated.
“So we want people to get involved and help us fight back – the chances of beating melanoma are hugely increased when it’s detected early and using an app like SkinVision helps us to have access to skin experts who can identify when a mole is likely to be high risk.
“It’s vital that we get into the habit of checking our skin and taking the necessary steps to get medical advice when needed, not just during the summer months, but all year round.”
For further information about Melanoma UK and the National Mole Hunt, visit: www.melanomauk.org.uk
Of A Vision: Kemal Ibrahim
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