Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of skin cancer, just months after she was treated for breast cancer.
The duchess underwent an eight-hour mastectomy in July last year – but during follow-up surgery last month, dermatologists removed several moles, finding one to be malignant melanoma.
Despite the diagnosis, the 64-year-old is said to be in “good spirits” as she faces further tests to discover if the cancer has spread to other parts of her body.
A spokesperson for the duchess said: “Following her diagnosis with an early form of breast cancer this summer, Sarah, Duchess of York has now been diagnosed with malignant melanoma.
“Her dermatologist asked that several moles were removed and analysed at the same time as the duchess was undergoing reconstructive surgery following her mastectomy, and one of these has been identified as cancerous.
“She is undergoing further investigations to ensure that this has been caught in the early stages. Clearly, another diagnosis so soon after treatment for breast cancer has been distressing but the duchess remains in good spirits.”
The duchess reportedly received the news shortly after Christmas, which she spent with her family in Sandringham. She has since been recuperating at a medical spa in Austria.
The duchess’s father, Major Ronald Ferguson, was diagnosed with skin cancer just months before his death from a heart attack in March 2003. Her friend Carolyn Cotterell died from skin cancer in 1999.
The duchess is a patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust and spoke at a Breast Cancer Foundation function five years ago. Her eldest daughter, Princess Beatrice, is patron of the British Skin Foundation and has worked with skin cancer patients.
Following her mastectomy at the King Edward VII Hospital in London, the duchess spoke openly about her diagnosis, which followed a routine mammogram screening, and her subsequent treatment.
She discussed her experience in her podcast,Tea Talks with the Duchess and Sarah, which she co-hosts with her friend Sarah Jane Thompson, describing herself as “extraordinarily lucky” that the cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes. She also urged other women to get themselves checked.
In November, she was pictured enjoying her first night out after the mastectomy at a gala dinner in London. And in the same month she guest-edited an episode of This Morning.
At Christmas, she joined the royal family on the traditional Christmas Day walk to Sandringham Church.
It has been reported that the duchess will be treated by Dr Andrew Furness, consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, and Catherine Borysiewicz, consultant dermatologist at the King Edward VII Hospital.
The duchess’s spokesperson said: “The duchess wants to thank the entire medical team which has supported her, particularly her dermatologist whose vigilance ensured the illness was detected when it was.
“She believes her experience underlines the importance of checking the size, shape, colour and texture and emergence of new moles that can be a sign of melanoma.”