Hugh Jackman Skin Cancer Scare: “Get Yourself Checked!”

Hugh Jackman Skin Cancer Scare: “Get Yourself Checked!”

You may have seen the picture Hugh Jackman posted of himself on Instagram with a bandage over his nose.

Movie stunt gone wrong? Far from it -- it’s actually covering the site where he had skin cancer removed. The caption read: “An example of what happens when you don’t use sunscreen.”

This is the fifth time the actor has had skin cancer removed. And, after he had another patch removed in 2015, the actor was quoted as saying he never wore sunscreen growing up in Australia. Now, Jackman is using his star status to encourage others to wear sunscreen and get regular check-ups.

Jackman has b
asal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common form of skin cancer, with approximately 2.8 million cases diagnosed every year. Other types of skin cancer include melanoma (less common, but the most dangerous form) and squamous cell carcinoma.

Who is at risk for melanoma?

What causes it?
BCC is caused by UV exposure from the sun -- both the cumulative exposure over the years, and intense, episodic exposure (like that heinous sunburn you got at the beach one summer).

What are the symptoms to look out for?
BCC often looks like an open sore -- it may even bleed. It is generally red, swollen and may also resemble a peeling skin patch or shiny bump. The bottom line? If you develop a new skin marking that resembles a mole, a growth or a change of any kind on your skin, you need to get it checked out by your doctor to make sure that it’s not a form of skin cancer. As Jackman mentioned, he only went to see a doctor after pressure from his wife -- underscoring the importance of having any skin changes seen by a doctor.

Why are UV rays so harmful to the skin?

BCC very rarely spreads (unlike melanoma), although it is possible. BCC can also be extremely disfiguring, especially on areas like the face and head. The most common sites of occurrence are on areas exposed to the sun: your face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders and back.

How can you prevent it?
Remember: UV Exposure! By limiting it, you’re limiting your risk of BCC. Stick to these safety points: try to avoid the direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., avoid sunburns (we know, you didn’t ever intend that sunburn in the first place, but be careful!), avoid tanning and UV booths (MAJOR no-no!) and cover up with clothing, especially clothing with built-in sunscreen if you’re somewhere with high exposure.

Be especially careful with children and infants, who are even more susceptible to the results of UV exposure. Research has shown that UV exposure in childhood and the teenage years has the greatest impact on your eventual risk of skin cancer.

How much sunscreen is enough?

What are the treatments?
Depending on the size and location of the BCC, treatment options include surgery, radiation, topical treatments and photodynamic therapy.  

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