A young workers melanoma experience
We were fortunate to provide a work skin check for a fit and healthy 28 year old Perth man recently. Fortunate is a great word to use in this case. If he had left his skin check another couple of years it may have been a different prognosis.
To encourage others to have a skin check, he has kindly allowed us to have an inside look at the whole process of his melanoma journey.
WARNING: graphic pictures below
This young man had Fitzpatrick skin Type 1 and a strong family history of Melanoma which immediately places in a higher risk category. It had been 5 years since his last skin check.
Different skin types
The Fitzpatrick skin phototype is a commonly used system to describe a person’s skin type in terms of response to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure.
When a suspicious spot is melanoma
During the workers skin check it became quite obvious that there was a lesion of concern that required immediate and urgent intervention by a Skin Specialist.
To the trained eye it was obvious that the lesion was indeed Melanoma. As pictured below you can see the lack of uniformity, multiple colours and patterns that are present.
After his initial workplace skin screening with us, he was booked in for an immediate biopsy.
The Doctor performed an excision biopsy which means they removed the whole lesion plus a 2mm border around it to a depth of approximately 1cm. This is to make sure there is clear margins around the lesion if it is cancerous.
Once the lesion was removed, he required 2 layers of internal stitches and 3 external stitches to conclude the first phase of his journey.
Pathology results can take a while and the wait is often the hardest part. His were due back in a few weeks. He had quite a long wait to find out how bad this suspected melanoma would impact his life.
Two weeks later results were in and fortunately the lesion was diagnosed as Melanoma in-situ. Phew.
What is Melanoma in-situ?
Melanoma in-situ is the least threatening melanoma diagnosis. It meant that the melanoma had not spread anywhere and was basically contained to the lesion.
As per recommended best practice, a wide excision was required to reduce the risk of the melanoma coming back (reoccurring) at that site.
This required the Doctor to go back into the biopsy site to take more tissue
He ended up with 10 internal stitches and several more external stitches.
This all resulted in quite an impressive scar. And one young man who is now committed to annual skin checks.
Work skin checks
Stories like this serve as a not so gentle reminder to stay SunSmart and keep up with regular skin checks. This young man is very grateful to his employer for providing the skin checks at work.
If you have workers exposed to the sun during the course of their work you have a duty of care to ensure they are aware of their hazardous exposure to UV and provided with the right PPE and education to reduce their risk of developing skin cancer.
Work Health Professionals provide onsite skin checks for workplaces in Perth and around WA on a FIFO basis. Our skin checks include 1:1 education on the individual’s skin type, family history, a full body skin check using dermoscopy and education on working safely in the sun. Annual work skin checks should be provided to those workers at high risk of sun exposure.