Patient Story: Karen Greener

Karen Greener was treated for a cancerous mole by Dr Verity Blackwell, consultant dermatologist, at Spire Harpenden Hospital in April 2015.

When we go abroad one of the essential items we always pack in our case is sunscreen, but how many of us wear sunscreen when we are exposed to the English sun?

With increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with skin cancers Spire Harpenden Hospital is dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of sun exposure by sharing one of their patients Karen’s experience who had been diagnosed with skin cancer.

“The first sign was a mole on my leg had changed. It had got bigger, darkened in colour and had become raised.” Like many people Karen mentally added this to her to do list and delayed getting it checked out.

When she went for a wellness check, the GP recommended that she get it looked at by a specialist and made a direct referral for her to see Dr Verity Blackwell, consultant dermatologist at Spire Harpenden Hospital.

“I had a small biopsy done and two weeks later I got the results that it was stage 1b which means although it was cancer it had been caught early, which was good.”

Karen had both the mole and surrounding tissue removed to ensure that the cancerous cells were no longer present. Karen was lucky she had been diagnosed and treated early but it has still had a big impact on her life.

“My outlook on life since the diagnosis is definitely different, I have given up work and I now spend time looking after myself. I value my health a lot more now and appreciate the people and things that are really important to me.”

Consultant dermatologist Dr Verity Blackwell says, “The signs to look out for are:

  • Any new moles in an adult that continue to grow
  • Any moles that change shape, size or colour
  • A mole that bleeds or itches

"A good way to remember what to look out for is the ABCD Mole guide.

"A = Asymmetry. If you draw a line through the middle of the mole and both halves don’t match, this means it could be more serious and should be looked at.

"B = Border. If the borders are uneven and the edges appear scalloped or notched, this should be checked.

"C = Colour. Having a variety of colours or shades of one colour is another warning signal.

"D = Diameter. Large moles should be checked regularly.

"This information and more can be found on the website.”

Karen finishes by saying: “My advice to anyone who is concerned would be to get it checked! Get that peace of mind. If you can catch it early, like I did it’s less complicated and there’s a greatly reduced chance of it spreading elsewhere.

"Verity was such a lovely consultant; she has such a lovely manner. I rang her out of surgery hours and she spent time discussing it with me and talking me through the fears I had.” 

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