Last year, cancer charity the Melanoma Fund uploaded a picture of Len looking rough. The former Strictly judge, who left the show in 2016, was pictured with a bandage on the side of his forehead and a glum expression on his face. The post continued to explain that Len had just had skin cancer removal surgery and was now urging others to take the issue seriously.
“He went, just like my nan used to. He told me to get it checked. I’m not medical at all, so I said, ‘I don’t know, what is it?’
“I went and they took it out and it’s gone. It was a tiny little thing on my forehead… probably because I play a lot of golf and I don’t wear a hat, which I do now.
“It was good that it was what it was because it was like a little early warning, which was good because I would have probably carried on in my own sweet way and it could have become something far worse!”
At the time a source close to Len said that the diagnosis came as a complete “shock” to the ballroom dancer, but he didn’t waste any time in getting it treated.
The star went on to explain that the process of getting it removed was extremely simple, but after going through the experience, he makes sure that he wears plenty of SPF.
Len elaborated somewhat jovially: “And it was such a simple process. The doctor put a few injections around it, took it out and I’m back to my gorgeous self.
“It’s so important that we do keep covered up. I used to wear a baseball cap but now I wear a straw hat which fully covers the forehead and so on. I put a lot of Factor 50 on my face when I play golf and fingers crossed everything is going to be gorgeous.”
Skin cancer, also known professionally as melanoma, occurs when cells in the skin (melanocytes) are exposed to ultraviolet light. The main source of ultraviolet light is sunlight.
Melanoma can develop anywhere in your body, but areas that are more exposed to the sun – backs, legs, arms and face – are at an increased risk.
The NHS explains that the most common signs of melanoma are the appearance of a new mole, a change in an existing mole or a development of a new pigmented or unusual growth on your skin.
Normal moles are generally uniform in colour, with a distinct border that separates it from your skin. Usually they are oval or round shaped and smaller than six millimeters in diameter – about the size of an average rubber.
To help you identify characteristics of unusual moles, The Mayo Clinic provides a handy list that individuals can use to check for signs of melanomas or other skin cancers:
- A is for asymmetrical shape. Look for moles with irregular shapes, such as two very different-looking halves.
- B is for irregular borders. Look for moles with irregular, notched or scalloped borders — characteristics of melanomas.
- C is for changes in colour. Look for growths that have many colors or an uneven distribution of colour.
- D is for diameter. Look for new growth in a mole larger than 6 millimeters.
- E is for evolving. Look for changes over time, such as a mole that grows in size or that changes color or shape. Moles may also evolve to develop new signs and symptoms, such as new itchiness or bleeding.
Sometimes melanoma can develop in areas of your body that have little to no exposure to the sun. This can occur in the spaces between your toes, on nails, palms of your hands, soles of your feet and even the eye.These are referred to as hidden melanoma, because people usually do not check these places or protect them with SPF.
The NHS explains that eye melanoma usually affects the whole eyeball and can be spotted by noticing a dark spot or changes in vision – although it is likely to be diagnosed during a routine eye operation.
Melanoma skin cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK. Around 16,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year. More than one in four skin cancer cases are diagnosed in people under 50, which is unusually early compared with most other types of cancer.
Therefore, if you or someone you know is concerned about a mole, or new development on their skin it is best to seek the advice of a GP. There will then be a variety of treatment options available to you depending on the type of cancer you have, the stage of the cancer and your general health.