Cancer checks crucial, patient urges

TOM Fink did not know he had cancer.

‘‘I got a bit of a shock; I couldn’t believe it,’’ Mr Fink, 70 of Cambridge Gardens, said.

‘‘Last month I was visiting the doctor for my regular blood test and asked him to look at this wart on my leg.

‘‘He said: ‘It’s cancer; that’s got to come out’.’’

It turned out to be squamous cell carcinoma, one of the deadlier types of skin cancer, though not as dangerous as melanoma.

Two days later Mr Fink had a 3.8cm-long growth cut out.

‘‘The doctor said I was very lucky; he said it was an aggressive cancer and if it spread into my body I could have died,’’ he said.

‘‘I thought it was just a wart so I didn’t worry about it.’’

He has had less aggressive skin cancers removed from his back and arms before , but never anything as dangerous as his latest experience.

‘‘I’ve worked out in the sun all my life, so I check everything every day,’’ Mr Fink said.

‘‘If I go outside I always wear my hat and sunglasses.’’

He said if anyone suspected anything were wrong with their skin they should see their doctor as soon as possible.

Cancer Council Penrith’s community programs co-ordinator Rodney Titovs said too many people, particularly men, were ignoring sun safety.

‘‘Evidence shows that 75 per cent of men in NSW are failing to wear broad-brimmed hats, 70 per cent aren’t using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15+ and almost half aren’t wearing sunglasses,’’ Mr Titovs said.

‘‘Melanoma is largely preventable and it’s important to know it’s never too late to reduce your risk of skin cancer.’’

Cancer Council Helpline: 13 11 20 or cancercouncil.com.au

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‘‘The message to men is simple. Protect your skin, check your skin and see your doctor immediately if you notice any changes to your skin, no matter how small. A couple of minute’s effort could save your life.’’ — Cancer Council Penrith’s community programs co-ordinator Rodney Titovs.

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