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Duchess of York diagnosed with aggressive form of skin cancer

The Duchess of York's skin cancer diagnosis comes just six months after she underwent a mastectomy
The Duchess of York's skin cancer diagnosis comes just six months after she underwent a mastectomy - Violeta Sofia

Sarah, Duchess of York has been treated for an aggressive form of skin cancer, just six months after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The Duchess, 64, underwent a single mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery last summer.

But when she had further reconstruction surgery last month, medics removed several moles, one of which was found to be a malignant melanoma.

Despite the double health shock, the “resilient” Duchess is said to be in good spirits and determined to plough on.

She is undergoing further tests to check that the cancer was caught in the early stages and has not spread to other parts of her body.

The news comes as the King prepares to undergo treatment for an enlarged prostate and the Princess of Wales recovers from major abdominal surgery.

A spokesman 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.”

Recuperation

The Duchess received the diagnosis just days after Christmas. Since then, she has spent time recuperating at the MAYRLIFE clinic, a medical spa in Austria.

The clinic, which is nestled on the shores of Lake Altaussee, offers various health programmes and attracts wealthy A-list stars.

Major Ronald Ferguson, the Duchess’s father, had been diagnosed with skin cancer just months before his death in March 2003 and had planned to undergo chemotherapy. He also had prostate cancer although he died of a heart attack.

The Duchess on her wedding day with her late father
The Duchess on her wedding day with her late father - PA

Four years earlier, in October 1999, Carolyn Cotterell, the Duchess’s closest friend and flatmate, died from skin cancer.

Princess Beatrice, the Duchess’s eldest daughter, is patron of the British Skin Foundation and has worked with skin cancer patients.

The Duchess’s spokesman said: “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 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.”

The Duchess Of York with her late friend Carolyn Cotterell, who died of skin cancer
The Duchess Of York with her late friend Carolyn Cotterell, who died of skin cancer - Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

The spokesman told The Telegraph that the Duchess was “very resilient” and determined to carry on, despite everything that had been thrown at her.

She is being 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 in London.

The cancer news comes as the Duchess has enjoyed something of a public comeback in recent months, having won plaudits for speaking openly about her breast cancer diagnosis and encouraging other women to get themselves checked.

The Duchess admitted during an appearance on ITV’s Loose Women in November that she still sometimes woke in a panic during the night believing that she might develop cancer somewhere else.

“I’m getting over that but it’s only been a few months since I’ve had the operation, so I’m just beginning to sit up straight,” she said of her original surgery.

“Your mind goes into, ‘Oh my god I’ve got to have a mastectomy, and you look it up and it’s all so terrifying and this is what’s going to happen and then I’m not going to see my grandchildren grow up.’ That’s what goes through your head … it’s that feeling of demise.”

Princess Beatrice
Princess Beatrice is patron of the British Skin Foundation and has worked with skin cancer patients. - REUTERS/Hollie Adams

That month, she is also said to have impressed ITV bosses after co-hosting and guest-editing an episode of This Morning.

The Duchess appeared on the daytime show as an agony aunt, telling viewers she was there to answer any questions about “love and relationships and having hard times”.

Speaking to two callers during the segment, she suggested they reignite their spark by spicing things up in the bedroom with some “lovely saucy underwear”.

Last month, she was permitted to join the Royal family on the traditional Christmas Day walk to church at Sandringham.

It was the first time in more than 30 years that the Duchess had been allowed to join the high-profile outing and was considered a clear sign that she had been welcomed back into the fold by the King.

The monarch, 75, is said to appreciate the loyalty she has shown to her ex-husband, the Duke of York, with whom she still lives at Royal Lodge in Windsor.

She continued to champion him throughout the fallout from the Jeffrey Epstein scandal as he faced a civil lawsuit from victim Virginia Giuffre, who accused him of sexual assault, and was stripped of his honorary military titles and patronages.

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