Grandfather of 12, Robert Dolan, experienced pain in his foot while walking his dog.
The 72-year-old, from Brooklands in Trafford, found his foot was bleeding after home – but never thought it would be the first sign of a devastating diagnosis.
Both of Robert’s parents sadly died from cancer, but being diagnosed with melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – in 2021 following the incident came as a shock to him.
The grandfather, who has welcomed hundreds of young people into his home over the past 30 years, underwent surgery in February to remove a lump in his foot.
But after a biopsy, he received the devastating news that the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and lungs.
A father of two, who served in the RAF and has been married to his wife Irene for 39 years, Robert was referred to The Christie Cancer Center for further treatment in March 2021.
The first immunotherapy drug he tried didn’t work, so he switched to combination therapy with the immunotherapy drugs nivolumab and ipilimumab.
Robert underwent his first four treatments at The Christie in Withington but was able to complete the remainder of his treatments from the comfort of his own home thanks to the center’s ‘at home’ team.
The familiar surroundings were a comfort to him: “It’s like someone puts a warm blanket around you when you’re down,” he told Manchester Evening News.
His recent PET scan showed no signs of disease progression in his lungs, allowing his treatment team to begin radiation therapy to his lymph nodes.
What are the signs of melanoma?
Around 16,700 Britons are diagnosed with melanoma each year. Charities warn that the number of melanomas has risen sharply in recent years – and is likely to continue to do so.
The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new birthmark or a change in an existing birthmark.
Other signs are:
- A mole with a mixture of colors
- A big mole
- A mole that changes over time
- A swollen mole
- A bleeding mole
- An itchy birthmark
- A crusted mole
- A birthmark in the form of a line under a nail
In women, the legs are the most common specific site for melanoma skin cancer in the UK.
Men are more likely to develop melanoma on the trunk, back, or trunk.
According to Cancer Research UK, it can occur at any age but is more common in older people.
It often develops in areas exposed to sun damage or in birthmarks, but is less common in places that are not exposed to sunlight.
Can melanoma spread?
According to Cancer Research, when melanoma reaches an advanced stage, it can spread anywhere in the body, regardless of where it started.
Symptoms depend on where in the body they are, but they can include:
- hard or swollen lymph nodes
- hard knot on your skin
- inexplicable pain
- feeling very tired or unwell
- unexplained weight loss
- yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
- Accumulation of fluid in your abdomen
- stomach pain
When should I see a family doctor?
See your GP if:
- A birthmark itches or hurts
- a mole is bleeding or crusting
- A mole looks inflamed
- You have an unusual spot or lump on your skin that lasts for a few weeks
- You have a dark area or line under a nail that is not due to an injury
The earlier a melanoma is detected, the easier it is to treat and the more likely it is that treatment will be successful. Therefore, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.