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Old 08-02-2012, 08:01   #61
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Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

Just over a year ago I got a diagnosis of melanoma. A small mole on my lower back had been "active" for a few months. It would go hard, soft, bloody, scabby, itchy, etc. I knew nothing about skin cancer and that this was a pretty classic sign of melanoma. My general physician spotted it during a routine annual physical and sent me to a dermatologist. He removed it and called me a week later with the biopsy results, and an appointment for pretty serious "deep excision" surgery to remove it, as well as more testing. He also gave me some reading on paper, and told me not to go searching on the Internet. The reason not to go to the Internet was because nearly any site you go to about melanoma will tell you it's incurable, and almost always fatal if not caught "soon enough." Scary stuff.

I can tell you the the expression "soon enough" takes on a whole new meaning when heard in this context about yourself. Is that one year, one month, one week?

The surgery included the removal of what I call a pound of flesh from my back - deep and wide to be sure it was all gotten, and the extraction of a lymph node in my groin to test for further evidence of the spread of the disease. The spread of melanoma is only detectable this way (doesn't show up in blood tests or any sorts of scans), and once it's found in your lymph system there's no known cure. After a total of about 70 stitches and lots of pain drugs I was back on my feet in a week, but had to wait two weeks for the biopsy results. That wait was more painful than the surgery, especially on my wife.

Luckily the biopsy came back negative. The stats about the tumor were such that I just caught it in time. The medical world has lots of stats about melanoma and mine was of an aggressive type and just over 1 millimeter away from being in the high percentage bad-news zone. Phew. The unfortunate other stat that aligns will all the facts about my tumor is that it the likelihood of it returning is a little scary, and there are no medical based preventive measures to reduce the odds. Just reduce sun exposure.

By the way, other more common skins cancers don't come with the same death watch and are usually treated easily and almost casually. We all know someone who has had some minor skin cancer removed. Never too scary, and I know for myself didn't make me worry too much about exposure since the cure was pretty straight forward. Not so with melanoma.

While none of the causal factors for melanoma are absolutely proven it seems the biggest factor is excess exposure to the sun in your youth - and it catches up to you later. I was never a sun worshiper, but I was always outside. One summer in collage I had a roofing job and got roasted daily. The skin on my back looked as bad as one of the pictures above. I always thought my naturally darker mediterranean skin protected me. Nope.

I've never liked sun tan lotion, and never thought about being covered up. That has all changed now and it's really quite easy to control how much sun exposure you get if you're committed to it. It doesn't require a massive lifestyle change.

The end of this story is that after all this I retired early last March, bought our dream boat in Aug, and now living life 100%.

My advice to anyone:

1 - cover your children and grandchildren and teach them good habits in the sun
2 - cover yourself
3 - have any suspicious spots on your body checked immediately - it's never too soon

JR
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:46   #62
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Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

My experience was similar to JR's with one important difference. When we moved to Annapolis 20 years ago we met a guy who told us he went to a Dermatologist every year for a skin check. That was a completely foreign idea to us but we started doing it anyway. About 8 years later my Dermatologist found a round pink mole on my calf and took it off. She said it was probably nothing but she just wanted to be sure. When I got home I got an email from my boss firing me (internet startup downsizing). I thought that was a big deal until I got a phone message from the Dermatologist that said to call her at home. That couldn’t be good. She told me the mole was actually Melanoma. That put getting fired in a whole new perspective. It was Amelanomic Melanoma (it didn’t have any of the normal Melanoma signs like dark and irregular). I had surgery a week later to remove additional tissue. It turns out she got it all in the office. It was a very early detection and no cancer had spread into my lymph system. I only need to be monitored, no other therapy. I was very lucky and feel that I owe my life the friend who suggested the skin checks. It could easily have been ignored or missed until it was too late. JR was lucky that his family doctor recognized that the mole was suspect. My advice is to go to a Dermatologist every year for a skin check. They see Melanoma nearly every day so they know exactly what to look for.

We are starting our cruising life in May. You can be sure that there will be no “beautiful” dark tans. I think normal healthy skin is much more attractive anyway.

-Bill
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:57   #63
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Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

This is a subject of great interest to me and I absorb any information I can, hence I wanted to pass this along from a radio item I heard years back ....SPF 15 has approx 92-93% efficiency, SPF 30 95-96%, SPF 50 99%. It is not a linear scale, a lower SPF is very effective without being messy and sticky.

Expert (medical) advice is to go with no greater than SPF 30 applied twice a day (sweat, evaporation and missing a bit first time are a problem).

I use a moisturizer with SPF 15 every day (look for these in pharmacies in the skin care section rather than in the sun screen products) regardless of weather or planned activity and put a sun specific 30 on top if it will be a day when I know I'm out in the sun.
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:57   #64
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Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

I think normal healthy skin is much more attractive anyway.
---------------------

yes, shure. that one reminding me of that Aesop's fable "The Fox and the Grapes"
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Old 08-02-2012, 09:17   #65
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Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

It's not all about the sun!! A co-worker, mid 40s, was a guy that never had his shirt off in the sun in his life. He noticed a strange mole on his back in the early summer. He waited until the end of summer to have it looked at by a doctor. It was a stage IV melanoma and he passed away about 4 months after the diagnosis.

According to my dermatologist at Mayo Clinic the cause of melanomas are not well known. He added that there is some linkage of melanomas to both sun exposure and genetics.
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Old 08-02-2012, 13:08   #66
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Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

True. You can get a melanoma on skin that was never in the sun. Just like you can get lung cancer even if you have never smoked. Nonetheless, just like with smoking and lung cancer, the link between sun exposure and increased probability of skin cancer is quite well established.
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Old 08-02-2012, 14:04   #67
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pirate Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
True. You can get a melanoma on skin that was never in the sun. Just like you can get lung cancer even if you have never smoked. Nonetheless, just like with smoking and lung cancer, the link between sun exposure and increased probability of skin cancer is quite well established.
Its not the question that gets one the answer one wishes...
More the way one asks it....
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Old 08-02-2012, 15:23   #68
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Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

LakeSuperior, good point. I take what you've said as everyone is at risk of melanoma, even those with little sun exposure. So everyone should beware. I agree completley.

I can also add that it's not just for middle-aged and older people. I know a local case of a 24 y/o woman now in stage III, which is to say, tragically, past any reasonable chance of recovery.

JR
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Old 08-02-2012, 15:32   #69
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pirate Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

Maybe its time folk stopped looking at sunscreens and start looking at their diets...
Check the charts for the foods that provide protection and oils for your skin.. then look at what you eat...
Lay you 10 - 1 most sufferers have an unhealthy diet.. the wrong foods..
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Old 08-02-2012, 15:52   #70
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Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Maybe its time folk stopped looking at sunscreens and start looking at their diets...
Check the charts for the foods that provide protection and oils for your skin.. then look at what you eat...
Lay you 10 - 1 most sufferers have an unhealthy diet.. the wrong foods..

spot-on
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Old 08-02-2012, 15:53   #71
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Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Maybe its time folk stopped looking at sunscreens and start looking at their diets...
Check the charts for the foods that provide protection and oils for your skin.. then look at what you eat...
Lay you 10 - 1 most sufferers have an unhealthy diet.. the wrong foods..
Boatman, not always the case, my wife always ate fresh healthy food and was particularly concious of what went into her body.
She found a melonoma on her leg, surgery immediately and still it survived. Took nine years to do its dirty deed.
Much surgery and pain ultimately for nothing.
Lesson: Cover up and stay out of the sun in the middle of the day and use a quality sunscreen!
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Old 08-02-2012, 18:20   #72
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Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Maybe its time folk stopped looking at sunscreens and start looking at their diets...
Check the charts for the foods that provide protection and oils for your skin.. then look at what you eat...
Lay you 10 - 1 most sufferers have an unhealthy diet.. the wrong foods..
Now you're just making stuff up!!
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Old 08-02-2012, 18:32   #73
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pirate Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Now you're just making stuff up!!
Kathleen Blanchard June 2009.
Skin cancer and premature skin aging from the sun are preventable with sunscreen and by eating the right foods. A focus on the right foods offers protection from sunburn and skin cancer, from the inside out. Foods that attack free radicals in the body and reduce inflammation can keep us looking younger and protect from sunburn that leads to skin cancer, pre-cancerous skin changes.
Dark chocolate, the kind that comes from genuine cocoa, not milk chocolate, protects from sunburn and is a powerful antioxidant. Start your day in the sun with a cup of cocoa. Two ounces of dark chocolate a day is a healthy way to gain health benefits that include protection from sunburn and skin cancer.
Green and black teas contain antioxidants known as polyphenols, and can offer protection from sunburn from the inside out. Drinking two or more cups of either black or green tea reduces the risk of developing squamous cell skin cancer by thirty percent, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Green tea is a more powerful protector from damaging rays of the sun that can cause sunburn that can lead to skin cancer and pre-canerous skin lesions.
Green leafy vegetables can reduce your risk of lung and colon cancer, and protect your skin too. According to the International Journal of Cancer, spinach, kale, and chard may reduce risk of squamous cell cancer by fifty percent. Paul Talalay, MD, from Johns Hopkins University has studied the protective benefits of broccoli for twenty-five years. He and his colleagues have discovered that broccoli sprouts are powerful when it comes to cancer protection. He warns, “Broccoli isn’t a substitute for sunscreen, but the protection you get won’t wash off in the pool”. You can incorporate the benefits of broccoli for protection from skin cancer from the sun by eating one half cup daily. Put broccoli on a salad or add some broccoli sprouts to your sandwich. Better yet, take a handful to the beach with a healthy veggie dip to protect from sunburn.
Omega 3 fatty acids from fish reduce inflammation and can reduce your risk of melanoma, a deadly type of skin cancer. Eat two servings of fish per week. Fish oil supplements are also beneficial to reduce risk of sunburn. Mackerel, trout, salmon, herring and sardines are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids that can protect skin from deadly melanoma, and other forms of skin cancer from sunburn.
Colorful fruits are high in carotenoids and lycopene. Carotenoids offer skin and eye protection from the sun. According to Ralph Felder, MD, PhD, “The more colorful the plant, the higher its protection against unwanted rays.” Dr. Felder is an Internist and author of The Bonus Years Diet. He also explains, “When you and I go out in the sun, we put on sunscreen. Plants use color as sunscreen.”, helping us reduce signs of skin aging and from development of skin cancer.
A study, performed in 2001, looked at volunteers who ate 40 grams of tomato paste in addition to two teaspoons of olive oil (for absorption) over a ten-week period. The group was forty percent less likely to experience sunburn when exposed to harmful UV rays.
Watermelon is rich in lycopene, making it a great choice to protect your skin from sunburn and possibility of developing skin cancer.
Use fresh sunscreen. Sunscreen loses potency, Purchase a fresh bottle every year. Remember to get at least twenty minutes of UV rays without sunscreen daily to get the benefits of vitamin D. Too much sun can expose us to dangers from skin cancer. Eating the right foods benefits overall health, and can keep sunburn away by reducing inflammation and protecting from damage associated with harmful free radicals from too much sun exposure. A combination skin cream containing vitamin E and Vitamin C can also protect from sunburn and aging. Skin lotions containing green tea extracts can also protect from sunburn that can lead to skin cancer and premature aging. Combining the right skin care and eating foods that protect the skin from damage can prevent sunburn and skin changes that lead to skin cancer, premature aging, and pre-cancerous skin lesions.
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Old 08-02-2012, 18:33   #74
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Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

I have also heard that FRAXEL Laser treatment by a qualified medical practitioner removes sun & age spots and is also a good preventative measure for removing these blemishes so that they do not turn nasty & you also look a heap better as well.
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Old 08-02-2012, 18:48   #75
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pirate Re: Skin Cancer from Long-Term Sun Exposure

So Far... So Good...
Been a grand run to date...
and after 63 years I'll not worry about it till it happens..
Anyway... the amount of abuse my bodies had... if I changed the slightest thing the shock would likely kill me...
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