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When Anna Heslin started to experience an ‘incredible burning pain’ down below, she put it down to a bikini wax.

The 44-year-old went to see a dermatologist who was convinced that Ann had contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

But after her tests came back negative in January 2021, Ann was put on an aggressive course of antibiotics and steroid cream.

She had discovered that two ulcers had formed on her labia and said nothing was working to help the pain and that it was progressively getting worse and worse.

Desperate for a solution, Ann, who lives in Louisiana, said she went for a biopsy, which tragically revealed she had squamous cell carcinoma.

Squamous cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer, and is the same illness that killed Ann’s father in 2010.

It can occur anywhere in the body and develops in the cells that make up the middle and outer layers of the skin.

In most cases it is often the result of prolonged exposure to sunlight, or radiation from tanning beds or lamps.

Anna Heslin
Squamous cell carcinoma can occur from many factors, including prolonged sun exposure, tanning beds, or radiation.
Anna Heslin. (Facebook)

Ann said that ‘she knew in her heart’ she had cancer, and revealed that her dad’s cancer journey had been just five months from diagnosis to death.

Ann, who works in events management, went to have the cancer removed, but during surgery medics found the cancer was actually at stage three and not at stage one, which medics had originally thought.

She said: “I was very shocked, a little disappointed that it went from stage 1A on the day of surgery to stage 3.

“Because of my tumor, its location, its depth, its [stage] and the margins, it was very extensive surgery.”

Eight weeks later Ann started chemotherapy which she had for six weeks, followed by 27 rounds of radiation.

Anna Heslin.
The 44-year-old also lost her father to the same type of cancer.
Anna Heslin. (Facebook)

She said that she is now working on maintaining the health of her skin and has been using acupuncture to do so.

During her treatment, Ann also developed lichen sclerosus.

This is a condition whereby patchy and white skin forms on the vulva, which can be itchy and irritating.

What is squamous cell carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma is a form of non-melanoma skin cancer.

This is a cancer of the keratinocyte cells which are in the outer layer of the skin.

These cells are mainly found on the face, neck, bald scalps, arms, backs of hands and lower legs.

It is the second most common type of skin cancer and may:

  • Appear scaly
  • Have a hard, crusty cap
  • Raised skin
  • Tender to touch
  • Bleed sometimes

After all her treatment, Ann got the news that she was cancer free in October 2021.

She now uses medication to treat any flare-ups she has.

Speaking to Today, Ann’s doctor, Dr Katrina Wade said some people might think that cancer of the vulva might be a yeast infection due to symptoms such as itching and burning.

Anna Heslin.
After treatment, Heslin is now cancer-free as of 2021.
Anna Heslin. (Facebook)

She added: “But symptoms of vulvar cancer are persistent and don’t resolve in what you think of as the normal way.

“I encourage patients to know their own anatomy. Just like we teach women about self breast examination you should know what your skin looks like in all areas of the body, even the private ones.

“You can notice any early changes that might be new or different.”

Ann said she is now trying to raise awareness of the condition in the hope that other people will learn to spot the signs.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission.

Source: NYPOST

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