Young people can also be affected by skin cancer

The risk of common skin cancer increases with age, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the disease at a young age. At the Skin Cancer Clinic, we recently treated 35-year-old Sabrina, who had been living with undetected skin cancer for many years.

Sabrina came to the Skin Cancer Clinic after many years with a scaly sore above her lip. She says she’s been dealing with it for a number of years. She has been treated for eczema and there has been no suspicion of skin cancer.

When I first visited my doctor, it was with a dry reddish patch on the skin above my lip. Here I was treated with a cream that was supposed to help with eczema and rashes.

Sabrina didn’t think much of it at the time, But after a long period of time with no improvement, and after trying different hormone and steroid creams, she started to get suspicious for the first time.

As a trained nurse myself, I know a bit about the symptoms of common skin cancer. I therefore asked for a biopsy so I could get a clarification, if it could be skin cancer I had contracted.

Undetected skin cancer spreads over time

Sabrina had a biopsyin February 2018, which showed that shedid not have skin cancer. It had been three and a half years since she first noticed the dry patch. Unfortunately, it turned out that there had been a mistake in the examination of the biopsy. The results of the investigation meant that the right treatment was not initiated. The skin cancer was therefore allowed to spread into the surrounding tissue. 

What started as a dry patch was now starting to develop, the area was getting bigger, scabs had appeared and it was also bleeding at times. Sabrina went to see a dermatologist once again, and this time there was no doubt. Already Before Sabrina had even stepped into the consultation room, the dermatologist told her that she was sure it was skin cancer. There was an immediate performed a new biopsy. Unfortunately, the result was unfortunately positive, Sabrina had common skin cancer, also known as basal cell carcinoma. 

That’s why Sabrina contacted the Skin Cancer Clinic in early summer 2019, on the recommendation of her dermatologist who had heard very positive things about the clinic.

I was both shocked and relieved when I finally got confirmation of what I had believed for the five years leading up to the diagnosis. Now I could finally have it removed, but of course I was also worried about how much the skin cancer had spread.

Unfortunately, it turned out that the skin cancer had been allowed to spread quite a bit over the years. There was skin cancer in an area of 2.7 x 3.8 cm. It was therefore necessary to reconstruct one side of the face, cutting and suturing all the way up to the eyelid and along the edge of Sabrina’s lip, where basal cell carcinoma was found. Mohs surgery managed to remove all the cancer cells, but it was a major operation.

You can get skin cancer in your 30s

The five years that passed before Sabrina received treatment contributed to a major surgery – just over 50 stitches in total before the skin cancer was removed and the surgery was complete.

Of course, I’m not happy that it had to end up with such a major operation. But I’m super glad I chose to go to the Skin Cancer Clinic. The warmth and professionalism I was met with is indescribable. It was hard to look in the mirror after the operation, but two months later it’s already much better.

Sabrina has since reflected on her experience and the fact that her young age may have played a role in the lack of diagnosis.

When you get skin changes like the ones I experienced in my 30s, I think my age definitely played a role in the late diagnosis. I had to break the table myself to get the first biopsy, and no one questioned afterwards that there could have been a mistake. That’s why I think it’s important for others to know that even if you’re under 50, you can still get regular skin cancer.

Below you can see a picture of Sabrina shortly after surgery compared to a picture two months after. The scar will become even less visible over time.

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