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Phil Tufnell health: Ex-cricket star’s cancer diagnosis made him revise his lifestyle

Phil Tufnell bowled himself to sporting success as an English international cricketer. His long list of achievements includes playing in 42 Test matches and 20 One Day Internationals for the England cricket team, as well as playing for Middlesex County Cricket Club from 1986 to 2002. Phil’s love of cricket came at the cost of his health, however.


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Phil was diagnosed with skin cancer on his face, which he puts down to spending long hours out in the sun.

He said: “The skin cancer was because of a career playing in the sun in Australia and the Caribbean. I had some skin cancers on my face that had to be removed.”

Luckily, the type of skin cancer Phil had wasn’t life-threatening, and he has since made a full recovery.

The cancer scare has made him revise certain lifestyle decisions nonetheless: “I try to always wear sunscreen now and I’m careful about how much I stay in the sun.”

What is skin cancer?

According to Mayo Clinic, skin cancer — the abnormal growth of skin cells — most often develops on skin exposed to the sun.

There are three major types of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

As the NHS explains, the most common types of skin cancer fall under the category non-melanoma.

Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin.

The term non-melanoma distinguishes these more common types of skin cancer from the less common skin cancer known as melanoma, which can be more serious.

In the UK, around 147,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year.

It affects more men than women and is more common in the elderly.

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How to spot non-melanoma cancer

According to the NHS, the first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or discoloured patch on the skin that persists after a few weeks and slowly progresses over months or sometimes years.

This is the cancer, or tumour.

“In most cases, cancerous lumps are red and firm and sometimes turn into ulcers, while cancerous patches are usually flat and scaly,” explains the health site.

Non-melanoma skin cancer most often develops on areas of skin regularly exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, hands, shoulders, upper chest and back, says the health site.


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How to treat non-melanoma skin cancer

According to Cancer Research UK, the main treatment for skin cancer is surgery.

“For most people, surgery removes the cancer and is the only treatment they need,” explains the charity.

As the health body explains, you usually have an injection of local anaesthetic in the area and then the doctor removes the cancer and a small amount of the surrounding tissue.

“You might have a skin graft depending on where the cancer is in the body, or if it covers a larger area,” it says.

According to the NHS, other treatments for non-melanoma skin cancer include freezing (cryotherapy), anti-cancer creams, radiotherapy and a form of light treatment called photodynamic therapy (PDT).

The treatment used will depend on the type, size and location of the non-melanoma skin cancer you have.

As in Phil’s case, treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer is usually successful, compared to most other types of cancer.

As the NHS notes, there’s a considerably lower risk that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body.

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