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'Terrifying': Subtle sign that led to woman's cancer diagnosis at 30

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 22 Nov 2023, 12:14PM
Model Valentina Ferragni, 30, shared photos of the spot on her forehead that turned out to be skin cancer. Photos / @valentinaferragni
Model Valentina Ferragni, 30, shared photos of the spot on her forehead that turned out to be skin cancer. Photos / @valentinaferragni

'Terrifying': Subtle sign that led to woman's cancer diagnosis at 30

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 22 Nov 2023, 12:14PM

Italian model Valentina Ferragni has opened up about her “terrifying” skin cancer diagnosis after scratching off what she thought was a pimple. 

Ferragni, 30, revealed that the spot on her forehead, which had lingered there for a year, turned out to be skin cancer. She had it removed straight away as well as a chunk of possibly cancerous flesh beneath it, reports the Daily Mail UK. 

She’s now shared several photos on her Instagram page to show what the “pimple” looked like, to help others look out for similar signs of skin cancer. 

She wrote, “Two years ago I removed a ‘pimple’ that was under my skin for almost one year and started to change one month before I got the surgery. 

“Doctors couldn’t tell what was it before the surgery, and they found out it was Basal Cell Carcinoma - a bad cancer of the skin.” 

Ferragni is the younger sister of Chiara Ferragni, 36, and founded her own jewellery brand, Valentina Ferragni Studio. 

Basal cell carcinoma is both the least dangerous and the most common type of skin cancer, usually slow-growing and found on areas of the body exposed to the sun. Skin cancer’s most dangerous form is melanoma, which can be life-threatening if untreated. 

Looking back, Ferragni said that “life changed very quickly and now I pay attention of every small detail on my skin, every thing that could change and be something else.” 

She added that her mission since the diagnosis is to “spread attention of the skin cancers ... please check yourself and go to the doctor. 

Wearing sunscreen with a rating of at least SPF30 is one of the most important things you can do to help guard against skin cancer. Photo / 123RFWearing sunscreen with a rating of at least SPF30 is one of the most important things you can do to help guard against skin cancer. Photo / 123RF 

Australian actor Hugh Jackman opened up about his skin cancer scare in April this year, after he had two biopsies done on “little things” that could have been basal cell carcinoma.  

In 2017, the Australian actor had six skin cancers removed from his face in the space of two years. Then, in 2021, a biopsy came back with an inconclusive result, revealing that Jackman could very well have had BCC.  

Jackman spoke about his most recent health scare in a video on social media, in which he urged people to be sun safe and wear sunscreen. In the post, Jackman could be seen wearing a bandage on his nose. 

“Please wear sunscreen. It is just not worth it,” he pleaded. “No matter how much you want to tan, trust me, trust me, trust me.” 

It's important to get regular skin cancer checks. Photo / ThinkstockIt's important to get regular skin cancer checks. Photo / Thinkstock 

How many types of skin cancer are there? 

The three main types of skin cancer are melanoma (including nodular melanoma), squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. 

Melanoma 

The most deadly type of skin cancer, which can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. It appears as a new spot, or an existing spot that changes shape, colour or size. 

Squamous cell carcinoma 

A scaly, thickened red spot that may crust over, ulcerate or bleed easily. It grows over several months, most often on sun-exposed areas and is more likely to occur in patients over 50. 

Basal cell carcinoma 

The most common and least dangerous type of skin cancer. It appears as a lump or a dry, scaly area and is typically red, pale or a pearly colour. It grows slowly, most often on sun-exposed areas. 

Skin cancer in New Zealand and how to protect yourself 

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. According to the Cancer Society, it’s the most common cancer to affect Kiwis, with around 80,000 people diagnosed each year as of 2022. 

According to a new study, more people are dying of non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) than melanoma.  

Researchers at the University Hospital of Nice in France looked at patient data collected by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organisation). It showed melanoma caused 57,000 deaths worldwide in 2020, but non-melanoma skin cancer caused even more, with 63,700 people losing their lives to the disease.  

The Cancer Society in New Zealand recommends checking your skin regularly, including areas that aren’t normally exposed to the sun. To protect your skin from sun damage, wear a hat, use sunscreen with at least SPF 30, wear sunglasses and clothing that covers as much skin as possible, and stay in the shade. 

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