Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with diagnoses estimated at twice or three times the rate in the US, Canada, and the UK. (1) So when Ryan Glossop of Perth, Australia had the opportunity to get his skin checked for signs of cancer as part of a work program, he knew it was smart to get himself checked.
The news wasn’t good, and it was only the beginning of a long journey back to health.
Glossop was diagnosed with melanoma in November 2018 after a small lesion was found on the back of his neck. But as his medical team removed the affected area, they realized it was larger than they first thought. Glossop’s melanoma had developed from nevus spilus.
Before he knew it, Glossop had endured 40 biopsies on his neck and back, 1 lung biopsy, and 4 operations. Skin from his leg was grafted onto what ended up being a large area of his neck and back. (2)
What is Nevus Spilus?
Also known as speckled lentiginous nevus (SLN), nevus spilus is a patch of hyperpigmentation on the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body and can either be congenital (like a birthmark) or can be discovered later in life as the patch darkens. (3)
Nevus spilus is not usually associated with melanoma, but in rare cases (like Glossop’s), it can be. (4)
Dr. Adam Friedman, professor and interim chair of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences told TODAY, “A picture cannot capture change over time, which I think is an important feature to consider. Is a spot growing or shrinking, lighter or darker, symmetric or asymmetric?” (2)
Ryan Glossop’s Story: Raising Awareness
Glossop’s wife, Fallon Glossop shared his story on social media:
“This subject is quite raw for me as my husband, Ryan was diagnosed with Melanoma in Nov 2018. After 40 odd biopsies of his neck and back, 1 of his lung and 4 surgeries, what started out so small, turned into something that none of us were ready for.
The thing is, with any skin cancer, not only do they remove the affected area of skin, but they also take a boundary around it. Ryan’s boundaries kept coming back abnormal, which was then found to be a skin condition called Nevus Spilus. It’s very rare for it to transition into melanoma, but in his case it did.
In May 2019 a large area of skin from his neck and back needed to be taken. So in his 4th surgery, Ryan had a skin graft, removing skin from both legs to cover section on his neck and back.
The strength that Ryan has had through this whole process amazes me, not only has he managed his pain considerably well but he has kept it together.
This whole experience has been hugely challenging for all of us, but if anything good is to come out of this, it is that we now want to help raise more awareness of Skin Cancer. Melanoma accounts for 10% of all skin cancers, which is why it is so important that everyone has regular skin checks.”
Fallon used her Facebook platform to raise funds in support of the Melanoma Cancer Support Association of WA Inc, an Australian non-profit organization that’s been working to reduce the impact of melanoma since its foundation in 2008.
“Your life is too precious to just bake yourself in the sun and not worry about your skin,” says Fallon.
What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?
Regularly monitoring your skin and scalp for signs of skin cancer is the key to catching cancer in its earliest stages. Use our skin cancer guide to understand the factors that contribute to skin cancer as well as symptoms of the various types.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.