WHEN Magic Radio presenter Tom Price, 40, took an impulse decision to get his moles examined, little did he suspect it was a decision that could well have saved his life. ‘I was approaching my 40th birthday and decided to get my moles checked out. I’m quite pale and have a lot of moles. I walk past a place called The Mole Clinic on the way to work and thought I’d go in as it only takes 30 minutes,’ explains Tom.
It’s a good thing he did — after an examination staff said they were concerned about three of Tom’s moles: one on his back, one on his head and one on his right leg.
The clinic sent their documents to Tom’s GP who immediately referred Tom to University College Hospital in London.
A doctor in the dermatology department examined Tom again and advised him that the moles on his scalp and leg should be removed.
‘He looked at them through a magnifying glass in tremendous detail,’ says Tom. ‘The one on my leg had gone red but hadn’t changed shape.’
A few weeks later Tom went back to get the moles removed.
‘They gave me a local anaesthetic, I went into a separate room and it took 40 minutes to remove them. It felt like a bee sting.’
Three weeks later Tom received a letter telling him to come back to hospital. ‘My wife said it wasn’t a good sign,’ says Tom.
‘I went in and had the shock of my life to be told the mole was a pre-cancerous melanoma in situ — it was sitting on top of the skin but hadn’t punched through the skin which then leads to skin cancer. It was like having a hand grenade on my leg.’
‘I later found out my uncle had died of skin cancer 30 years ago — it all started with a mole that the doctors couldn’t find.’
‘They gave me a cancer nurse at the hospital which was a shocking and emotional moment. One of the first things the nurse did was give me a survey about whether I had any regrets about lifestyle choice. What I had was a non-event on the cancer scale but imagine if you were told you had something very serious and they give you a survey like that?’
Tom then needed to have additional skin removed around the original location of the mole to make sure the melanoma hadn’t spread. He’s since been told no further treatment is necessary — the melanoma was successfully removed before it caused skin cancer — but he’s been advised to monitor his other moles for any changes in shape or colour.
‘I’ve used the NHS’s mole mapping service,’ says Tom. ‘They take pictures of all the moles on your body and if you go back in the future, they can check to see if any of the moles have changed.’
Tom was told his melanoma could have been caused by being sunburned as a child.
‘Part of it is down to skin type. I’m very pale. I can feel my skin sizzling when I’m out in the sun. So much damage can be done when you’re young. I’m very cautious myself now and I make sure my kids don’t get sunburned.’
‘Everyone has told me how lucky I am to have got my moles checked out when I did. If I had left it any longer it would have spread.
‘It could have taken a week or a few years but the consequences would have been very serious.’
■ Tom presents the Saturday morning breakfast show on Magic Radio. He also hosts his own podcast, My Mate Brought A Toaster.