No one wants to hear, “you have something on your face,” but when that “something” looks suspicious and is potentially skin cancer, it’s time to put awkwardness aside and speak up right away.
We’ve heard many stories of patients whose melanoma was detected by a friend or family member. Whether your partner sees a suspicious mole on your back and urges you to go to the doctor, or your friend comments on a weird new growth on your face, those who are close to us are in a unique position to spot potential skin cancers. Pointing them out may make the difference between early detection/treatment and a far worse outcome.
Just take Andy Cohen’s melanoma diagnosis, which we learned about last November. His close friend, fellow celeb Kelly Ripa, spoke up when she spotted a black dot on Cohen’s lip. She urged him to get it checked out. Once he did (likely through an appointment with a dermatologist), he — low and behold — found out that it was a melanoma. It’s no stretch to say that Ripa may have saved his life — melanomas caught early are easily treatable, but the survival rate for melanoma drops drastically, to a mere 18 percent, once the disease spreads.*
As for Cohen — a self-described “tanorexic,” who has admitted to tanning both outdoors and in UV tanning beds — he says that he never thought skin cancer would happen to him, but that this experience would definitely, “change his relationship to the sun.” We’re glad for this revelation — there is no such thing as a safe tan. Just consider the fact that people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent.
What’s the moral of the story? When you see something, say something. You just may save a life.
*Cancer Facts and Figures 2017, American Cancer Society.