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Sarah Ferguson: Huge surge in visits to NHS skin cancer website page after Duchess of York's diagnosis

The NHS has reported a huge surge in the number of people viewing its website for information about melanoma skin cancer since Sarah, Duchess of York, announced her diagnosis.

The health service said its online page about the disease was visited once every 13 seconds - an increase of 741% - over the two days following the announcement.

The duchess, 64, revealed her diagnosis on Sunday - just six months after being treated for breast cancer.

Professor Peter Johnson, NHS national clinical director for cancer, said it highlighted the importance of how people should seek help if they spot any potentially concerning changes to their bodies.

He said: "Skin cancers can come in many different shapes and sizes, and they can be different for everyone.

"It's important to take notice of any changes on your own body and to contact your GP practice to be checked if something doesn't seem right.

"Diagnosing cancer early saves lives, so we would always prefer to see you sooner if you are worried about a symptom - it might not be cancer but catching it early helps give people the best chance of successful treatment."

The NHS previously reported a sharp increase in views of its online information about prostate enlargement following the news of the King's health condition. It said there were 16,410 visits - a 1,061% increase - to its website page in just 24 hours last week.

On Friday, it was announced that the monarch, 75, was "doing well" after undergoing a procedure to treat the condition.

The Duchess of York was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer, after she had several moles removed - including one that was identified as being cancerous.

A spokesman for the duchess said she would undergo further investigations to ensure that the cancer had been caught in its early stages.

In a post on social media following the announcement, she said she was in "shock" at the diagnosis, but thanked well-wishers and medical staff for their support.

She also urged others to be vigilant with their skin, writing: "I believe my experience underlines the importance of checking the size, shape, colour and texture and emergence of new moles that can be a sign of melanoma and urge anyone who is reading this to be diligent."

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Last year the duchess, the former wife of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, underwent an eight-hour single mastectomy operation and reconstruction after discovering she had an early form of breast cancer during a routine mammogram.

She previously said she had no symptoms and almost missed her appointment - until her sister convinced her to go.

In a TV interview in December, she said she was "proud" of her mastectomy and described it as a "badge of office".

What is malignant melanoma?

Malignant melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other areas of the body.

According to the NHS, the main cause of melanoma is ultraviolet light, which comes from the sun, as well as from sunbeds.

Factors such as age, a family history of skin cancer, and having pale skin, or a large number of moles, can increase your chances of developing the disease.

A new mole or a change in an existing mole may be signs of melanoma, as well as large moles, or those with uneven shapes, or a mixture of colours.

The NHS advises people to contact their GP if they notice a new mole or changes to existing moles, including if one becomes itchy, painful, or inflamed.

People who notice a dark area under a nail that has not been caused by an injury should also contact their GP.