Atomic Kitten star Natasha Hamilton has urged people to check their skin for new or changing moles in an attempt to raise awareness of skin cancer.
The 40-year-old singer found fame in the early noughties as part of the girl band, with hits such as Whole Again and Eternal Flame.
After noticing an unusual mark on her mother Maria’s face, Hamilton suggested she go to the doctors, where she was later told it was a basal cell carcinoma, a form of non-melanoma skin cancer.
Hamilton, who was working as a skin specialist at the time, said: “I was giving my mum a facial when I noticed a mark on her forehead that I hadn’t seen before – when I asked her about it, she said it regularly disappeared and then came back again but had assumed it was just dry skin.
“Over time, I noticed that it would sometimes be bigger, a bit scaly and looked really sore so I urged her to go to the doctor and get a medical opinion.
“At the time, she was told it was nothing to worry about. Fast forward a year later and it was still there but getting bigger and more prominent – she went back to the doctor and this time got a referral to a dermatologist who then diagnosed it as a basal cell carcinoma, a form of non-melanoma skin cancer.
“She’s recently been given some cream that burns off pre-cancerous cells and then later had it cut out. Luckily, my mum’s experience was not melanoma – which is the deadliest form of skin cancer – and we were able to get it out.
“But her experience was a major wake-up call for us all, forcing us into checking our skin for markings and moles, and making sure anything new or out of the ordinary is checked out as soon as possible.”
As a result of her experience, Hamilton is now calling on people to join melanoma patient support and advocacy charity Melanoma UK in its National Mole Hunt.
According to the charity, an estimated 8,089 melanomas have gone undiagnosed during the pandemic.
Hamilton, who has four children, went on to explain how she has also changed her lifestyle to ensure she does not put herself at risk of increasing her chances of skin cancer.
She said: “As a teenager, I remember hitting the sunbeds desperate for a tan and to look healthy and glowing. As I’ve got older and educated myself though, I slap on the factor 50 and make sure my children know how to enjoy the sunshine safely.
“I’m passionate about encouraging everyone to get involved in the National Mole Hunt and get a second – and third – opinion if needed. It really could save your life.”
For further information about Melanoma UK and the National Mole Hunt, visit www.melanomauk.org.uk.