A YOUNG woman has shared disturbing images of her cancer which she developed after spending too much time in the sun.
Alondra Sierra, from the Mexico, developed deadly skin cancer in 2019, after she noticed a freckle on her scalp had “rapidly” grown.
“The colour [of the mole] had also changed from a light blonde to a dark wine red,” the 24-year-old explained in a video shared on TikTok.
But because she was just 19 at the time, Alondra thought nothing of the mark.
Three years later, aged 22, Alondra decided to get the mole seen by a medical professional who diagnosed her with melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer.
Around 8,000 people in the US will die of melanoma each year.
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While in the UK, around 16,200 new cases of the disease are diagnosed each year, claiming 2,300 lives — equal to six every day.
It is the UK’s fifth most common cancer and rates have risen faster than any other.
Alondra had to undergo gruelling procedures to remove the cancer.
She also underwent reconstruction surgery, which involved growing extra skin to cover the hole made by removing the cancerous tissue.
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As part of the procedure, called tissue expansion, a balloon-like device was inserted under the skin near the area on her head which need to be repaired.
This is gradually filled with salt water, causing the skin to stretch and grow.
“If I had seen a doctor sooner, I might have avoided these operations,” she explained.
The young woman has shared pictures of her head during her treatment as a warning to others to get checked their moles checked and wear sunscreen.
“Lets protect our skin from artificial light like tanning beds, laser, nail lamps and the sun.
“Also, make sure you wear sunscreen daily,” she added.
What are the symptoms?
The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.
Most experts recommend using the simple “ABCDE” rule to look for symptoms of melanoma skin cancer, which can appear anywhere on the body.
- Asymmetrical – melanomas usually have two very different halves and are an irregular shape
- Border – melanomas usually have a notched or ragged border
- Colours – melanomas will usually be a mix of two or more colours
- Diameter – most melanomas are usually larger than 6mm in diameter
- Enlargement or elevation – a mole that changes size over time is more likely to be a melanoma
In women, the most common specific location for melanoma skin cancers in the UK is the legs.
Men are more likely to see melanomas in their trunk – the back or torso.
The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or discoloured patch on the skin, the NHS says.
It persists after a few weeks and slowly progresses over months or sometimes years.
In most cases, cancerous lumps are red and firm and sometimes turn into ulcers. Cancerous patches are usually flat and scaly.
The two most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer are basal cell cancer and squamous cell carcinoma.
Basal cell cancer (BCC)
Basal cell cancer (BCC) is sometimes referred to as a rodent ulcer, and this affects the outermost layers of cells in the skin.
Signs of BCCs include a skin growth that:
- Looks smooth and pearly
- Seems waxy
- Looks like a firm, red lump
- Sometimes bleeds
- Develops a scab or crust
- Never completely heals
- Is itchy
- Looks like a flat red spot and is scaly and crusty
- Develops into a painless ulcer
Around 75 per cent of all skin cancers are BCCs. These are typically slow-growing and almost never spread to other parts of the body.
If treated at an early stage, this form of skin cancer is usually completely cured.
If they do become more aggressive, BCCs may spread into the deeper layers of the skin and into the bones – which can make treating it more difficult.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Another form of non-melanoma skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma.
This is a cancer of the keratinocyte cells which are in the outer layer of the skin.
These cells are mainly found on the face, neck, bald scalps, arms, backs of hands and lower legs.
A lump on the skin may:
- Appear scaly
- Have a hard, crusty cap
- Be raised
- Be tender to touch
- Bleed sometimes
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Non-melanoma skin cancer most often develops on areas of skin regularly exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, hands, shoulders, upper chest and back.
For more information visit: cancerresearchuk.org