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Nurse diagnosed with skin cancer urges others to ‘get it seen, get it sorted’

A former University of East Anglia (UEA) adult nursing student has spoken out during Men’s Health Week (11-17 June) about being diagnosed with skin cancer, urging other men to look after their skin this summer.

Mark Le Sage, 51, a nurse from Spalding, hopes to encourage other men to speak to their GP if they see changes to their skin or moles. It comes after he was diagnosed with Melanoma, a form of skin cancer, in January this year.

“When I was told I had cancer it was horrendously heartbreaking and it has hit me really hard,” said Mark. “I found it difficult to deal with and was uncertain and confused about my prospects.”

“Talking about my cancer to my family, friends has been cathartic and has really helped me to get to grips with it.”

Mark has a family history of skin cancer, with both his parents diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma skin cancer. He was aware that this put him genetically more at risk and decided to check a mole that he was concerned about with his GP in December 2017. He had the mole removed, but tests later revealed that he had Melanoma.

During his time at University, Mark became interested in the differences between men and women’s approach to health, basing one of his projects around this topic. After graduating in 2012, he saw in practice that men were less likely to act on their health worries. 

He said: “Men are generally poorer at looking after their health, whether that be mental or physical, compared with women. They are more likely to take risks and less likely to get something checked out for fear of embarrassment.

“Often you will find that a man has only been diagnosed with a condition as a result of their partner encouraging them to speak to a health professional.

“Your body is complexly clever and most of the time it will give you warning signs if something is wrong, whether that’s localised pain or a small rash appearing- you’ve just got to listen to it!

“With any cancer or disease, the sooner it is caught and diagnosed, the better chance you have of treating it. My mantra is simple- ‘get it seen, get it sorted’.”

Now summer is in full-swing, Mark wants to remind others that it’s even more important to protect your skin and be aware of the effects of sun damage. “At the first sign of any changes to your skin, whether that’s texture, colour or changes to moles or skin marking, speak to your GP.” he said.

“Two of my close friends, since speaking to me about my diagnosis, have got themselves checked and have also sadly been diagnosed with Melanoma. If I can encourage others who are worried about their skin health to seek advice, then I’ve made a difference.”

If you are concerned about yourself, contact your GP, or encourage a friend with any concerns to do the same.