Melanoma survivor warns others about the dangers of the sun

For Your Health

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer

Sun exposure over time can lead to skin cancer. Doctors recommend using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing when out in the sun. One Concho Valley resident says the same — after experiencing melanoma 3 times in his life.

“It turned out I had a rather good-size melanoma in the middle of my tattoo on my shoulder,” said Don Earnhart, a melanoma survivor.

Since 2007, Don Earnhart has had 3 melanomas — all of which were asymptomatic.

“We were quite surprised and stunned when the doctor told us,” recalled Earnhart.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. There are three major types and according to experts, 1 in 5 of us will develop one of these to some degree in our lifetime.

“Melanoma is the third most common type, but it is also the most dangerous type.” said Dr. C. Eric Greeson, a Dermatologist at Shannon Medical Center.

According to Dr. Greeson, melanoma occurs because of chronic sun exposure over time.

“It isn’t this one incident of being sunburned. It’s your life-long exposure to the sun that puts you at an increased risk,” explained Dr. Greeson.

“I grew up in the sun. We were outside most of our lives back in those days,” added Earnhart.

Dr. Greeson says that the fairer your skin, the more at-risk you are for skin cancer. However, everyone has the potential to get it. He recommends everyone do a self-screening from time to time, to check for anything unusual on the skin.

“If you have a new lesion that pops up, a new growth. If it’s bleeding, changing size, changing color, symptomatic, itchy or painful, we should look at it,” Dr. Greeson suggested.

 If you’re going to be out in the sun, use sunscreen and wear protective clothing. As for Earnhart, he still loves to spend time outside but he says that now, he makes sure he’s protected from the sun before heading out.

“I still haven’t filled in the tattoo. It’s a headless eagle that reminds me I need to be careful,” laughed Earnhart.

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