A woman who was ‘never careful in the sun’ has revealed how she could lose the ‘whole right side’ of her nose after the lump on its side turned out to be skin cancer.
Lauren Coathup, 27, from Chelmsford, Essex, was diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma on Christmas Eve 2018, after noticing the small lump on her nose gradually growing in size.
Speaking to FEMAIL, she said that while doctors couldn’t tell her exactly how much of her nose she would lose, she was told it could be the ‘whole right side’ of her nose and some cartilage.
Admitting that she ‘barely wore sun cream’ even while on holiday, Lauren confessed she was ‘really lucky’ that her cancer, which is the most common form in the UK, did not manage to spread underneath her skin where it would not be visible.
Lauren Coathup, 27, from Chelmsford, Essex found that she had been diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma on Christmas Eve 2018. Pictured, with boyfriend Ross after her diagnosis
Lauren first noticed a lump on the side of her nose in January 2018, but never considered its severity until she noticed the skin around it darkening while the lump stayed fair
‘I’m very embarrassed to admit this now, knowing what I know, but I barely wore sun cream,’ said Lauren.
‘The only time I would was on holiday and it was after I’d already caught the sun and was already a bit burnt.’
‘I wasn’t careful in the sun because I always wanted to have a natural tan and never did it sensibly.’
She added: ‘The most shocking thing I found was the uncertainty, although the lump was visible and it was only small, I was told that it could spread under my skin, which wouldn’t be visible.
Admitting that she ‘barely wore sun cream’ even while on holiday, Lauren confessed she was ‘really lucky’ that her cancer didn’t spread underneath her skin. Pictured, after her diagnosis
Lauren admitted that the only time she would wear sun cream was when her skin had already burnt. Pictured, with boyfriend Ross after her diagnosis
‘So the amount of skin I might lose could be a lot bigger than what I first thought. Thankfully I was really lucky and it hadn’t spread further as I caught it early enough’.
Lauren first noticed a lump on the side of her nose in January 2018, but never considered its severity.
It was only when she was on holiday in Italy, six months later, that she realised its colour had stayed fair while her skin had darkened, and its size had increased significantly.
After visiting her GP she was referred to various dermatologists and eventually, after months of confusion and non-diagnosis, Lauren was referred for a biopsy.
On Christmas Eve in 2018, she received a letter with her devastating diagnosis of Basal Cell Carcinoma – a type of skin cancer that develops slowly in the upper layers of the skin.
While doctors couldn’t tell her exactly how much of her nose she would lose, she was was advised it could be the ‘whole right side of her nose.’ Pictured, before her surgeries
On Christmas Eve in 2018, Lauren received a letter with her devastating diagnosis of Basal Cell Carcinoma, a type of skin cancer that develops slowly in the upper layers of the skin
‘It was a complete shock’, said Lauren. ‘I was only 27 when I got my diagnosis and I only had the lump checked out just in case and because I had noticed it visibly change and get bigger. I never thought it could actually be something to worry about. ‘
Doctors were concerned that Lauren’s cancer could spread further into her nose cartilage, but said they wouldn’t know until they started her Mohs surgery – a technique used to remove skin cancer.
WHAT IS BASAL CELL CARCINOMA?
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a type of non-melanoma skin cancer.
Non-melanoma means it does not involve skin pigment cells.
BCC often appears as scabs that bleed
BCC makes up more than 80 per cent of all forms of skin cancer in the UK, with over 100,000 new cases being diagnosed every year.
It is mainly caused by overexposure to UV light from the sun or tanning beds.
BCC can occur anywhere on the body but is most common on areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck and ears.
The following people are most at risk:
- People with fair skin or hair
- Those who work outdoors
- People who use sunbeds
- Those with a personal history of the condition
BCC is usually painless. Early symptoms often only include a scab that bleeds occasionally and does not heal.
Some appear as flat, red, scaly marks or have a pearl-like rim. The latter can then erode into a ulcer.
Others are lumpy with shiny nodules crossed by blood vessels.
Most BCCs can be cured, however, treatment is complex if they are left for a long time.
Treatment usually involves removing the cancerous tumour and some of the surrounding skin.
Source: British Skin Foundation and NHS Choices
In August 2019, Lauren had her removal and reconstructive plastic surgeries and, to both her and her surgeon’s delight, discovered that the cancer hadn’t spread.
‘I was feeling extremely anxious,’ she said. ‘I had two surgeries – one for removing the skin cancer and the other for my reconstructive plastic surgery.
‘No one could tell me exactly how much of my nose I would loose and I was advised it could be the whole right side of my nose and some of my cartilage.’
While Lauren was left cancer free after her surgeries, she admitted that for a while it left her ‘paranoid’ about going out in the sun. Pictured, with boyfriend Ross after her diagnosis
In August 2019, Lauren had her removal and reconstructive plastic surgeries and, to both her and her surgeon’s delight, discovered that the cancer hadn’t spread. Pictured, her nose following her operations
Lauren says she was ‘never careful in the sun’ and ‘always wanted a tan naturally’. Pictured, before her diagnosis
‘So it was a really scary time, but I had such wonderful support around me it really did get me through’.
While Lauren was left cancer free after her surgeries, she admitted that for a while it left her ‘paranoid.’
‘I’m extremely lucky to have a strong support system of friends, family and boyfriend’, said Lauren. ‘But I never anticipated the mental struggles following on from this. For a while, I was paranoid about going outside in the daytime sun’.
However, Lauren was recommended the SunSense range of sunscreens with SPF50+ by her plastic surgeon.
She claims that after using the product – one of five sunscreens available on prescription here in the UK – she now feels comfortable going out in the sun again.
‘The SunSense products have a 50+ SPF rating, they protect against UVA and UVB rays, both of which cause skin damage,’ she said. ”Also the fact that the product is Australian and has the highest protection level for Australian sun protection means that I feel extremely safe outside when I have it on.’
Lauren feels comfortable going out in the sun again. Pictured, with her boyfriend Ross, two weeks following her operation