Stand Up To Cancer: Skin Cancer

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One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer this year alone. It is an even scarier fact if you have had five or more sunburns in your life, your risk just doubled. In this morning’s Stand Up To Cancer report, we show you the warning signs and how to prevent skin cancer altogether.

Jack Holmes knows all to well what damage the sun can do to your skin.

"[This] little old place came behind my ear back in 1962," he says.

After a few sunburns over thirty years ago, now he is paying through radiation and treatments.

"He has a mix of basal cells and squamous cell cancers. Basal cells are the most common. They look a little like pearls. Slightly raised underneath the skin and are shiny, although not always. Not usually spread and don't cause a lot of problems."

Squamous cells are more aggressive and harder to treat.

"They removed all this skin, took it out, put the new skin back, it looked good, and the doctor-went to him for 30 years, said, ‘This will come back.’"

Jack is lucky. While basal and squamous cells are dangerous, their outcome is not as deadly as melanoma can be.

"Melanomas are a problem because they can be hard to detect, and they can spread before you can detect them," Dr. Mary Hebert, radiation oncologist, Texas Oncology-Sherman, says.

Dr. Hebert says she has seen them all, but what amazes her is that most of the time it could have been prevented.

"It’s the sun exposure you get when you are young. One blistering sun burn when you are young doubles your risk of skin cancer."

Screening yourself is also key it is as simple as A-B-C-D.

-A stands for Asymmetry - Make sure one half of the mole or growth matches the other.
-B for Border irregularity - Notice if the edges of the mole or growth are ragged or blurred.
-C is for Color - The pigmentation of growth is not one color--maybe dashes of red, white and blue are mixed in with tan and black.
-D for Diameter - If the width is greater than the size of a pencil eraser you might want to check with your doctor. That's probably not normal.

"Wear a broad rimmed hat, wear long sleeves in the summer, they make shirts with sunscreen, wear sunscreen always, and stay out of the sun during direct sunlight hours."

Jack wishes he would have followed this advice so many years ago. If he had, he would be able to enjoy the sunlight a lot more.

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