Laura O’Donnell had grown increasingly concerned after noticing the small growth on her stomach just before lockdown, before using an app to determine if the mole was potentially dangerous
Image: Copy media)
A mother has her own ‘diagnosis’ skin cancer after using the smartphone app to check a worrying mole
Laura O’Donnell had become increasingly concerned after noticing the small growth on her stomach just before the lockdown.
The 43-year-old from Bothwell in Lanarkshire says: “I’ve been very lucky.
“If I hadn’t used the app, I probably wouldn’t have gone to my GP until now – and God knows how it could have been at this stage.
“I’m a positive person and I’m just glad it was diagnosed early and removed right away. But I have no doubts that it could have saved my life in the long run.”
Laura first saw the dark-colored birthmark on her stomach in February 2020, reports the Daily record.
She says: “I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I must have been in my underwear because I looked in the mirror and saw a dark mole or a freckle on my stomach.
‘I’m quite pale, with red hair and blue eyes, and I have a lot of freckles, but this just didn’t look right.
“I took a picture and sent it to my mother and sisters whatsappbut it started playing in my head.”
Laura adds: “Over the years I had often asked my doctor if a mark or freckle looked good or not, and I was always told not to worry about it.
“But this was just at the stage where we went into lockdown and you couldn’t see or speak to your GP – and like everyone else I was aware that I wasn’t putting any pressure on the NHS† But it bothered me.”
Then Laura, a medical salesperson for an American company that sells obstetric and gynecological devices, got an idea.
“I thought at this time, there must be something that can help me, there will be an app, and I literally just googled it.”
Laura found an app called SkinVision that uses AI technology to assess your skin and identify any risks.
“It cost a few pounds, but before that I was able to take pictures of five moles or freckles to assess, and they have an algorithm that compares them with a huge amount of data and expertise.
“Mine came back with a red warning that it was high risk.
“Due to the pandemic, I put it off for a few weeks, but because of the app warning, when it started to change shape and size, I contacted my GP.”
And within days, she was referred to a dermatologist who looked at the mole once: “And said it’s going to come off today!”
Laura continues: “When they gave me leaflets I saw it was textbook melanoma and two days after I had the mole removed they confirmed it and I had to go back to the hospital to have more removed to make sure are that they had clear margins and had it all.
“The NHS was excellent, I couldn’t have wished for better. They were great.”
Laura is a regular sunbed user and avid tanner and is now much more careful.
“In the past, my goal when I went on holiday was always to come back tanned and I would be disappointed if I didn’t.
“Now I’ll still enjoy the sun, but I’ll cover up with a hat, sunglasses, and SPF50 — and go in the shade if it’s really hot.”
Laura says: “I know that if it hadn’t been for the app I would have put off going to a doctor a lot longer and my melanoma wouldn’t have been detected so early.
“I’m very lucky. Now my tan comes from a bottle.”
Gill Nuttall, CEO of Melanoma UK, says: “Our aim is to get people to check their skin and watch for any changes in the markings on their bodies.
“Melanoma is one of the few cancers that we can see with our own eyes. That means it’s in our power to catch it early and have a better chance of dealing with it.”
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