A lucky mother-of-three saved her life after she diagnosed her own cancer – using a mobile phone app.
Nikie Duddridge, 46, scanned a tiny mark on the back of her ankle using the app on her phone camera after she read about SkinVision it in a magazine.
The app revealed the moles on her arms and legs were absolutely normal but gave the ankle lump a ‘Red Warning’ and advised immediate medical attention.
Just weeks later surgeons removed a malignant melanoma – the most aggressive form of skin cancer – and found other pre-cancerous cells elsewhere in her body.
Nikie has now been given the “all clear” and is speaking out in a bid to raise awareness of the “amazing” app that potentially saved her life.
Grandmother-of-two Nikie, from Cannington, Somerset, said: “It’s just amazing. You just don’t put finding cancer and a phone app together.
“I had never heard of such a thing. You just don’t think of using an phone app, taking a photo and it telling you have cancer – but it works.
“I have never used sunbeds, never gone out in the sun enough to get burnt and have no history of skin cancer in the family.
“The mole itself I hadn’t ever really noticed before I read the article.
“I had no idea how long it had been there or how long it would have gone unnoticed had I not used the app.”
Chocolate shop manager Nikie noticed the small lump with a dark centre – about half the size of a finger nail – on the back of her right ankle near her achilles tendon.
The single gran thought she must have knocked it when she was hill walking and thought nothing of it.
A week or so later, in September 2016, she was reading an article in Woman Magazine about someone who used app SkinVision to find cancer.
It uses a technique called fractal geometry, which looks for patterns in the outlines and dimensions of a mole that make it more likely to be malignant.
A normal mole also has a smooth, consistent edge, but a melanoma is more likely to have a jagged or irregular outline.
Also, non-cancerous moles are usually one colour whereas a melanoma is made up of multiple shades.
The app then classes it as high, medium or low risk and advises action and even saves the photos so users can track it.
Nikie said: “I started with one on my arm and another somewhere else and they were fine.
“I thought ‘oh I’ll check that little bump on my ankle’ not thinking anything of it.
“I had to do it two or three times to get it right and it flashed up with a red warning. I just thought I’d probably done it wrong.
“But I sent the photo to my friend who is a nurse and she said ‘you need to get that seen’.”
That afternoon she went to her GP who referred her to a specialist and then the hospital for a biopsy in November 2016.
It revealed the mark was skin cancer and that she had a fist-sized tumour behind – which was also removed.
A month later tests revealed she had pre-cancerous cells on five lymph nodes in her groin – suspected to her travelled up her leg from the ankle.
She had a sentinel lymph node biopsy on her groin and behind the knee, as well as a skin graft to cover the hole left by the cancer.
But because the cancer was found so early, she was given the all clear with no need for further treatment, in February this year.
Nikie, who will have to have regular check-ups for the next five years, said: “I now have a hopefully much longer life to enjoy.
“The more people who are made aware of this the better, it saved my life, it could save many, many more.”