If you think it takes a lifetime of sun exposure to develop skin cancer, you might be surprised how short that lifetime can be. Believe me, I even saw it on my team when I was coaching the Lady Raiders.
Even in college kids, we are seeing melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer that will kill more than 7000 people this year. So how do you know who will develop skin cancer? Well, sun exposure is not good for anybody, but it seems the lighter the complexion, the greater the risk.
Dr. Kelly Bennett, TTUHSC Department on Family Medicine., says she worries when she sees someone with fair skin and blonde or red hair with freckles and green eyes she says that group is born with a high risk of developing skin cancer. But she says a lot of different skin types are increasing the risk today by exposing skin that has never been exposed to sunlight.
"When kids go to tanning salons, they tend to do it in the nude and so not only are we seeing kids tan more but we're seeing them tan in places that God didn't mean for them to tan. So that increases the risk of getting skin cancer in places you wouldn't necessarily be thinking of looking at," said Dr. Bennett.
She says remember your ABC's when checking your skin for cancer. A is for asymmetry, one side of a mole should match the other side. B is for border, moles should have nice smooth edges. If a border is irregular, that sends up a red flag. C is for color, be suspicious if a mole is intensely back or has a bluish tint or if it is multi-colored. D is for diameter, any mole that is bigger than the size of a pea is too big and puts you at risk of melanoma.
Dr. Bennett says it is very difficult to tell a 20-year-old that she has skin cancer and I understand because I remember how difficult it was to watch Cisti Greenwalt, one of my players, go through chemotherapy for her skin cancer. Cisti has since recovered and today she protects her skin like we all should.