Sarah Ferguson Diagnosed With Skin Cancer

By   |  January 23, 2024

By Robin Foster HealthDay Reporter  |  Copyright © 2024 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

MONDAY, Jan. 22, 2024 (HealthDay New) -- Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, announced Monday that she has been diagnosed with melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer.

"I have been taking some time to myself as I have been diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer, my second cancer diagnosis within a year after I was diagnosed with breast cancer this summer and underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery," Ferguson said in an Instagram post. "It was thanks to the great vigilance of my dermatologist that the melanoma was detected when it was."

The disease was discovered after several moles were removed as Ferguson was undergoing reconstructive surgery following her mastectomy, "and one of these has been identified as cancerous,” a spokesperson for Ferguson told CNN.

Ferguson was first diagnosed with breast cancer in June following a routine mammogram screening.

"Naturally, another cancer diagnosis has been a shock but I’m in good spirits and grateful for the many messages of love and support," Ferguson added.

Melanoma, a type of skin cancer that develops in the cells that give skin its color, is considered the most serious form of skin cancer because it can quickly spread to other parts of the body and become deadly.

Melanoma risk is greater in people who have fair skin that freckles or burns. In addition, people who have many moles and/or irregularly shaped moles are also at higher risk.

"Melanoma is the fifth most common skin cancer in women and the vast majority are caused by UV exposure from the sun," said Dr. Jeffrey Farma, co-director of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

But he added a caveat: "Most melanomas are not related to genes that are passed through the family; however, there is an increased risk of melanoma after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Patients should be screened for the BRCA2 gene, which can increase the risk of both breast cancer and melanoma."

Still, the vast majority of patients with melanoma are diagnosed at an earlier stage and most are cured with surgery, Farma stressed.

Ferguson had a message for others who might be at high risk for melanoma.

"I believe my experience underlines the importance of checking the size, shape, colour and texture and emergence of new moles that can be a sign of melanoma and urge anyone who is reading this to be diligent," Ferguson noted in her post.

Ferguson's announcement comes on the heels of news last week that Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, has had abdominal surgery and King Charles III is due this week to be treated for an enlarged prostate.

More information

The Skin Cancer Foundation has more on melanoma.

SOURCE: Jeffrey Farma, MD, co-director, Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia; CNN