Patient’s shock at cancer diagnosis

John Ward, of Bispham, is upset that he found out he had skin cancer in an inappropriate way.
John Ward, of Bispham, is upset that he found out he had skin cancer in an inappropriate way.
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A cancer patient today spoke of his shock at learning he had skin cancer on his nose - during what he thought was a hospital appointment concerning a growth on his thumb.

John Ward said he turned up to Blackpool Victoria Hospital to sign consent forms for minor surgery on his thumb.

But a mix up in communication meant he was told a mole, cut out three months previously, had been cancerous and required further treatment.

Mr Ward, 50, said he believed the mole had been dealt with entirely when it was cut out in April, and says he wasn’t told it was being sent off for a biopsy.

He later contacted his dermatologist about a lump on his thumb, which he thought was the reason for an appointment he was asked to attend last month.

But when he arrived a plastic surgeon told him it was to cut the cancer - a VCC Rodent Ulcer - out of his nose.

He says he was given the bombshell news in an inappropriate setting, and not given any support.

“The surgeon just kept on saying he was going to remove the cancer,” he said.

“I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about.

“I couldn’t cope with it; it was a shock. I told him to stop saying the word cancer and just said I had to leave. It pushed me over the edge.

“Now I just don’t trust them and I don’t want them touching my nose.”

Mr Ward, a former construction worker of Kincraig Close, Bispham, said he asked for the mole, which he first noticed around six years ago, to be removed earlier this year when it started to become itchy.

His appointments have been set up by Virgin Healthcare, which is commissioned to provide dermatology care for the whole of the North West and is responsible for correspondence between consultants and their patients.

Mr Ward, 50, complained to Virgin Healthcare and was told a letter was sent to his home explaining that an appointment would be made following the discovery of the ulcer.

It makes reference to a “skin cancer meeting” held at Clifton Hospital between clinicians following the biopsy.

But Mr Ward says he didn’t received the letter and wasn’t told he had skin cancer until his appointment on July 23 - the one he believed was for his thumb.

Mr Ward said if he had received the letter, he would have acted on it.

“No-one phoned me about this or called me in at all,” he added.

“I had an appointment with [my dermatologist] two days after this letter was meant to have been sent, and he didn’t mention the fact that I had cancer at all.”

Virgin Healthcare was unable to confirm whether Mr Ward had been contacted about the cancer ahead of the letter.

A spokesperson for the Blackpool Dermatology Service said: “We are unable to comment on the specifics of Mr Ward’s case, however, all biopsies are sent for pathology assessment in line with clinical best practice.

“Following pathology testing we update all patients on their results in the most appropriate way depending on the specifics of their condition.

“Any patients who are found to have a cancerous growth on their skin, that is a squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma, are informed personally by a clinician in the safest, quickest and most sensitive way possible.”