Sarah Ferguson, 64, has been diagnosed with skin cancer, her rep confirmed in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. The Duchess of York was also previously diagnosed with “early stage” breast cancer, which led to her having a successful single mastectomy last year.
“Following her diagnosis with an early form of breast cancer this summer, Sarah, Duchess of York has now been diagnosed with malignant melanoma,” Sarah’s rep said in the statement. The rep also revealed the royal family member had several moles removed and analyzed by a dermatologist when she was recently undergoing reconstructive surgery following her mastectomy, and one of the moles was identified as cancerous.
“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,” the rep also shared. “She believes her experience underlines the importance of checking the size, shape, color and texture and emergence of new moles that can be a sign of melanoma.”
Find out more about Sarah’s cancer battles below.
Sarah Ferguson Getting Treated for Skin Cancer
Sarah is reportedly being treated for her melanoma in London, England, and has taken time to recuperate at the MAYRLIFE clinic, a medical health resort in Altaussee, Austria.
“She is undergoing further investigations to ensure that this has been caught in the early stages,” her rep explained in the released statement. “Clearly, another diagnosis so soon after treatment for breast cancer has been distressing, but the Duchess remains in good spirits.”
A friend of Sarah’s also told PEOPLE that a second cancer diagnosis in “a matter of months has obviously been a shock and a blow,” but she “is very resilient and in good spirits. Her time in Austria helped her gather her strength, and her family is supporting her.”
What is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the “out-of-control growth of abnormal cells in the epidermis, the outermost skin layer, caused by unrepaired DNA damage that triggers mutations,” according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. The mutations “lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors” and the main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC).
Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) are “abnormal, uncontrolled growths that arise from the skin’s basal cells in the outermost layer of skin (epidermis),” while Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is “an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising from the squamous cells in the outmost layer of skin (epidermis).”
Melanoma is “a cancer that develops from melanocytes, the skin cells that produce melanin pigment, which gives skin its color” and Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is “a rare, aggressive skin cancer.”
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the two main causes of skin cancer are the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and using UV tanning beds. Many forms of skin cancer can be treated if caught early, and some doctors may even detect the growth at a precancerous stage, before it has become a full-blown skin cancer or penetrated below the surface of the skin.
Depending on the type of skin cancer and the stage of it, various treatment options are available, including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.
How is Sarah Ferguson’s Health Today?
Sarah is currently in the process of being treated for melanoma, her rep confirmed. She is also getting further tests to make sure the skin cancer was found early, which will help her determine the best options for her diagnosis.
Sarah Ferguson’s Past Health Issues
Before her skin cancer diagnosis, Sarah was diagnosed with “early stage” breast cancer in June 2023. “Sarah, Duchess of York was recently diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer detected at a routine mammogram screening. She was advised she needed to undergo surgery, which has taken place successfully,” a statement given to PEOPLE read at the time.
“The Duchess is receiving the best medical care and her doctors have told her that the prognosis is good,” the statement continued. “She is now recuperating with her family. The Duchess wants to express her immense gratitude to all the medical staff who have supported her in recent days. She is also hugely thankful to the staff involved in the mammogram which identified her illness, which was otherwise symptom free, and believes her experience underlines the importance of regular screening.”
In a New Year’s Eve message last month, Sarah revealed that she beat breast cancer. “I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday celebrations today. 2023 hasn’t been without its ups and downs, trials, lessons, laughter, miracles and joy,” she wrote alongside a photo of her posing in a green outfit. “I made the Sunday Times Top 5 bestseller list for my historical romance novel, A Most Intriguing Lady! I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I beat breast cancer and now I have got a Derek on my left.”
“I have a new grandchild!!!” she continued. “I have had the pleasure of meeting some very inspiring people from around the world with beautiful stories to tell. I have discovered within myself that I, too, have more stories to tell. I am 64 and just getting started. I hope everyone takes time to reflect and to look forward with love and positivity. Happy New Year, #2024!”
Sarah was getting breast reconstruction surgery after a single mastectomy when she was diagnosed with melanoma.