This Morning: Jon Courtenay recalls skin cancer diagnosis
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Melanoma – the fifth most common cancer in the UK – is one of the fastest-growing forms of the disease. There are around 16,200 new cases of the disease each year, of which 2,300 result in death. Characterising the disease, however, can enable early detection and treatment. In some rare instances, cancer patients may present with streaks of colour in their urine.
According to the Harvard Health website, melanoma is “the most serious type of cancer.
“In rare instances, [melanoma] can put melanin, the pigment that darkens the skin, in circulation, and some of that pigment may wind up in the urine.”
The health body explains that when urine turns “truly brown”, this may be caused by a breakdown product of haemoglobin – bilirubin.
“[Bilirubin] builds up in the blood because of liver conditions, like hepatitis and cirrhosis, or a bile duct blocked by a gallstone, a tumour, or some other obstacle.
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“If some of that excess bilirubin gets into the urine, the ring can turn a brownish colour.
“Haemolytic anaemia, when too many red blood cells get broken down at the same time, also produces a bilirubin surplus that may taint urine.”
Although skin pigment may sometimes leak into the bloodstream, it remains a rare occurrence.
Common signs to expect from the disease include changes to moles.
The NHS states: “The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.
“This can happen anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affected areas are the back in men and the legs in women.”
Doctors recommend seeing a doctor for any abnormality that is growing or changing quickly and doesn’t go away.
Figures released earlier this year suggested more than 100,000 people have missed out on being referred to hospitals with possible skin cancer.
The figures, which doctors and patient groups have described as “truly alarming”, could result in more people being diagnosed with advanced disease.
The backlog in cancer treatment caused by pandemics has led to an outcry of concern among doctors and patient groups.
Health bodies are now encouraging patients to visit their GP if they notice “red flag symptoms”.
When treated in the early stages, a great number of cases can be reversed through surgery.
When detected late, however, doctors will usually resort to stopping the spread of cancer and reducing symptoms.
The condition is normally detected by visually scanning the skin for suspicious moles.
If found, these moles are usually cut out and sent to laboratories for further testing.
Only 30 percent of moles turn out to be cancerous, and often true cancers are missed.
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