Staffordshire Parliamentary Candidate Diagnosed With Cancer

11 April 2015, 08:13 | Updated: 11 April 2015, 08:17

Staffordshire Conservative parliamentary candidate Michael Fabricant has urged people to be aware of how their bodies are changing after he was diagnosed with skin cancer.

The Tory, who is defending the Lichfield seat he has held for 18 years, said he decided to announce his news on Twitter to raise awareness.

He has been diagnosed with melanoma and basal cell carcinoma, but is feeling "optimistic'' as the specialists believe they have caught it in time.

Mr Fabricant said: "The reason why I decided to tweet this - and I thought long and hard about whether to do so - is because if you deal with it early enough it is probably not a life threatener.

"So the moral of the story is: if you spot something which is changing on your skin, go and see a doctor.

"I don't intend for this to get in the way of my campaign which I shall continue with my usual enthusiasm.

"Nor do I plan a by-election in the next five years if I'm successful on May 7.''

Mr Fabricant, who initially represented Mid Staffordshire from 1992 until the constituency was abolished five years later, went to see his doctor after noticing changes on the skin on his chest. He was then referred to a consultant.

Biopsies confirmed the diagnosis and he has had surgery at the NHS Queen's Hospital in Burton. He will now have regular appointments over the next three months.

Earlier this week, new figures from Cancer Research UK found pensioners in the UK are seven times more likely to develop the deadliest form of skin cancer than they were four decades ago.

Men aged 65 and over are around 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma than their parents' generation, while older women are about five times more likely to develop this disease, the charity claimed.

Around 5,700 pensioners are now diagnosed with melanoma each year in the UK compared with just 600 in the mid-1970s.

Although age is a major risk factor for melanoma, the huge increase is blamed on the cheap package holiday boom dating from the 1960s.

Getting sunburnt once every two years can triple a person's risk of developing the disease, it is suggested.

Mr Fabricant's diagnosis came as the world mourned the loss of Australian cricketer and commentator Richie Benaud, who had been battling skin cancer.

After his diagnosis, the sportsman said he regretted never wearing a cap while playing cricket to protect his head from the sun.