MOOLOOLABA doctor Krzysztof Cichocki’s heart breaks when he remembers the day he told a 23-year-old he had skin cancer.
The man, described as a lively world traveller, was diagnosed with a stage-four melanoma on his back.
He had the lump, which grew under a pale freckle, for six months.
By the time he made an appointment with Dr Cichocki, the cancer had spread throughout his body. The man died 12 months later.
Dr Cichocki said the diagnosis was the worst news he had had to deliver in his 10-year career, although he had had to repeat the words to about 36 more people since.
“It certainly was a tear-squeezing experience, but I guess it makes my job more important,” he said.
“My job is to find it early, and remove it so that everyone can carry on with their lives. If it is a late presentation, no matter how much skin is removed, the melanoma may have already spread.”
More than 2700 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer and 450 more will die this summer.
It is the most common cancer in Australia. About 11,000 Aussies will be affected by the disease and 1800 of those people will die as a result.