With his pale skin and English-Scottish heritage, Paul was always conscious of the dangers of skin cancer.
In 1991, Paul had his first biopsy just before his 18th birthday and since then has had almost 30 moles removed from all over his body.
‘Better safe than sorry’ approach
“Back in the days when I had a melanoma, the attitude was to remove anything that could potentially be a problem,” Paul says.
“The ‘better safe than sorry’ approach meant surgeons removed any mole that may have been slightly suspicious. This included removing large amounts of surrounding tissue when a biopsy confirmed malignancy ‘just to make sure’ – my body’s a testament to that philosophy.”
Reminders of life-saving, but invasive, surgeries
At 18, Paul was diagnosed with a stage 2 melanoma. With limited treatment options at the time, doctors surgically removed the cancer – a procedure that left him with a dramatic 10cm scar on his arm.
“When I was younger, I was very self-conscious about the size of that scar, and also the tenderness of my skin in that area as it took a few years to restore normal feeling” he said.
“In hindsight I was lucky it wasn’t somewhere more visible, but at the time I was acutely aware of it whenever I was in public or meeting new people.”
With time, Paul has grown used to his scars and now sees them as a visual reminder of the treatments that saved his life – although he is very glad the approach towards surgically removing skin cancers has evolved since he was first diagnosed.
Advocate for patients and treatment advances
Since its inception in 2018, Paul has been a Director on the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Trials’ Board.
In this role he has worked to ensure there is consistent and trusted engagement with patients and their families; something he believes is integral to ensuring successful and patient valued trials.
“Through my work with MASC Trials and various melanoma consumer groups, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet lots of people who are very likely only here thanks to advances in diagnostics and treatments,” Paul says.
“While it was necessary at the time, we’ve come a long way from the ‘cut first ask questions later’ mentality of the past.”
“Clinical trials have enabled innovation and improved not only outcomes but – importantly – quality of life for skin cancer patients. We’re truly entering an exciting age for melanoma and skin cancer research, and I’m so fortunate to get to see the leading edge of that through my work with MASC Trials.”
New hope for melanoma and skin cancer patients
There are many melanoma and skin cancer patients who, like Paul, have survived thanks to cancer surgery. Now, our investigators are looking into whether it’s possible to achieve the same results with a less invasive procedure.
MASC Trials’ MelMarT-II clinical trial aims to help improve quality of life for stage 2 primary melanoma by studying whether a 1cm excision margin can achieve the same outcomes as a 2cm one.