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Skin Cancer

Hi Guys,

I just wondered if any of you are aware of any ex-gannites who have or have had skin cancers as a result of their overseas service?

I served on Gan 69-70 and have been diagnosed with Bowen's Disease. I had a tumour grow behind my ear which has now been removed, but a number of dry scaly skin patches on my face caused my dermatologist to be concerned. He prescribed a chemotherapy cream (Fluouracil) and after 4 weeks of application my face is a mass of red sores. Ultra violet sun damage has been brought to the surface. It will get worse over the next month before it starts getting better. Fortunately the tumour was not malignant but 1 in 100 of the actinic keratoses on my face could turn nasty, hence the cream.

The dermatologist is sure that a year served in the Indian Ocean (no sun cream applied) is the cause of the disease.

Re: Skin Cancer

Hello Mick,,I know you have been through the mill, with hip ops etc,since our time together on Gan,,but this is a new one,and I really hope you are OK.Did the fact you were blonde and fair skinned[at the time]have anything to do with it,and did your Doc say it could take this long to surface..What I mean is I also get a few pea size flaky bits on my back and head,but usually rub-off after a couple of days,then take months to come-back---is it worth seeing the Doc?? Going back out again in June[40th wedding anniversary],then possible reunion on Gan 2013....

Re: Skin Cancer

Hi Larry,

Good to hear from you. Yes, I was a fair-skinned blonde with nice legs!

The dermatologist was quite sure that the damage was solar and that it was most likely caused 40 years ago. Constant exposure to UVA and UVB without protection was not wise but we didn't know any better then did we? I remember the Maldivians using coconut oil but it stank to high heaven! I don't recall any Nivea or Ambre Solaire.

I had a couple of dry skin spots removed by freezing a few years ago but they came back. Two persistent ones on my eyebrow and cheek. A couple of months ago, I scratched the back of my ear and a piece of dry skincame off and bled a little. I forgot all about it but 6 weeks later a tumour 3/4 inch long had grown there. I saw the Doc and within a fortnight it had been surgically removed. The Lab report thankfully said it was not malignant. However, the specialist was not happy with my other marks so prescribed the chemotherapy cream. It is extremely potent and after 4 weeks has reddened my face and brought the offending pre-cancerous cells to the surface. It is extremely sore and crusty and will get worse for the next two weeks before it gets better. I've seen pictures of a patient with similar and although it does get horrendous, the final result is well worth it.

If, as you say, you have a couple of dry patches that won't go away, it wouldn't hurt to see your doc. As the skin ages it does not replenish itself so well and these problems arise more frequently. We were all exposed to the sun's rays for a long time, which is why I wondered if any other Gannites have had a similar problem.

All the best,


Re: Skin Cancer

I was on Gan for almost two years between 73 and 76. Just before I retired I did a 5 month stint down in the Falklands where I worked with an old colleague who had been on Gan in the late 6os. He told me that he'd had skin problems and had numerous "blemishes" removed mainly from his arms and face. His doctor had told him that 30-35 years after excessive exposure was the optimum time for skin problems to appear. Almost exactly 30 years after my return I noticed a freckle on my arm was growing, then flaking off with nice new skin underneath which then flaked off and so on and so on. So I went to my Doctor who also said 30-35 years was "optimum" and he froze it off. I have had no problems since. I remember when I arrived on Gan in November 73 I went to the NAAFI to buy some sun block (Not available where I lived in November!) and they just laughed at me!

Re: Skin Cancer

Now I'm glad that I came back from a year in Masirah, 3 years in Cyprus and 9 months on Gan as white as when I went out.