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Just weeks after posting a positive update on her battle with breast cancer, Sarah Ferguson has more somber news to share. On Sunday, the Duchess of York announced she was diagnosed with skin cancer, with a spokesperson telling People that she’d had several moles analyzed by a dermatologist and one was identified as cancerous — specifically, malignant melanoma.
“The Duchess wants to thank the entire medical team which has supported her, particularly her dermatologist whose vigilance ensured the illness was detected when it was,” the representative said, adding that Ferguson “believes her experience underlines the importance of checking the size, shape, color and texture and emergence of new moles that can be a sign of melanoma.”
The Duchess is currently undergoing further testing “to ensure that this has been caught in the early stages,” the spokesperson said. She’s receiving treatment in London and is also spending time at a medical health resort in Austria to recover. “Clearly, another diagnosis so soon after treatment for breast cancer has been distressing, but the Duchess remains in good spirits.”
A friend of Ferguson’s also told the outlet that the Duchess “is resilient and in good spirits” despite a second cancer diagnosis, which was “a shock and a blow.”
Melanoma is one of the four most common types of skin cancer. Of the four (which include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and actinic keratoses), melanoma is often seen as the most serious kind due to its tendency to spread, per the American Academy of Dermatology Association. When caught early, though, melanoma has a five-year relative survival rate of over 99 percent, the American Cancer Society reports.
On Monday, Ferguson took to her personal Instagram to share the news and an update with her followers.
“It was thanks to the great vigilance of my dermatologist that the melanoma was detected when it was,” the Duchess writes. While noting that the diagnosis was a shock, Ferguson said she was in “good spirits and grateful for the many messages of love and support.” Echoing the words of her spokesperson, the Duchess urged “anyone who is reading this to be diligent” about checking their skin regularly for signs of skin cancer.
Specifically, Mayo Clinic recommends looking for changes in existing moles and development of new “pigmented or unusual-looking” growths, which are both early symptoms of melanoma. Look out for moles that:
Other skin cancers may present as round growths, pinkish patches of skin, red bumps, scaly patches, or sores, per the AADA.
In addition to encouraging followers to stay vigilant about their own skin health, Ferguson also took the opportunity to shout out her doctors. “I am incredibly thankful to the medical teams that have supported me through both of these experiences with cancer,” she wrote. “I am resting with family at home now, feeling blessed to have their love and support.”
Before you go, read about other celebs who are sharing their health conditions to raise awareness: