Phil Tufnell health: Ex cricket player discusses his health scare

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Phil Tufnell was born in 1966 and is famed for being England’s slow left-arm spin bowler. He has played over 42 test matches for England between 1990 and 2001 and took more than 1,000 first-class wickets. Tufnell retired from cricket in 2003 and appeared on television shows, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and Strictly Come Dancing. He has appeared on the BBC One magazine show, The One Show and Would I Lie To You? Nicknamed ’Two Sugars’ due to his well-known love of tea, he has had a few health scares in his life and most notably was his diagnosis with skin cancer on his face.

Skin cancer is caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun.

There are three main types of skin cancer including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

Melanoma skin refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin.

Tufnell explained: “The skin cancer was because of a career playing in the sun in Australia and the Caribbean. I had some skin cancers on my face that had to be removed.”

Anyone can get skin cancer, however, those most at risk are fair or freckled skin that burns easily, people with light eyes and people with blond or red hair.

The common symptom of skin cancer is a change on the skin, typically a new mole or spot. Melanoma skin cancer usually appears as a pigmented patch or bump that can also be red or white.

It may resemble a normal mole, but usually has a more irregular appearance.

“Thankfully, the cancers were not very bad ones but it was a scare. I try to always wear sunscreen now and I’m careful about how much I stay in the sun,” Tufnell said.

GP’s can diagnose the skin to determine if there are cancers present by doing a biopsy. This involves a local anaesthesia to numb the skin and then the GP will take a small sample of a person’s skin.

This skin sample is then checked by a specialist using a microscope to determine if the skin is cancerous or not.

Skin cancer develops primarily on areas of sun-exposed skin, including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, hands, and on the legs for woman.

Skin cancer occurs when mutations occur in the DNA of the skin cells. The mutations cause the cells to grow out of control and form a mass of cancer cells.

Ways to prevent developing skin cancer:

  • Seek the shade, especially when temperatures are at the hottest (10am – 4pm)
  • Avoid getting a sun burn
  • Avoid tanning and tanning booths
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses
  • Use a UVA/UVB sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher
  • Apply the sunscreen to the entire body 30 minutes before going outside
  • Examine skin head-to-toe every month

See your GP or dermatologist for a professional skin exam

As well as being attentive about sun protection, Phil is vigilant about other areas of his health and is mindful of his diet.

Tufnell said: “I do look after myself and try to be careful with what I eat. I eat a lot of vegetables.

“I do occasionally have a pizza or a burger but I try to keep that out of my diet as much as possible and I drink moderately.”

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