POSTED: Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 5:31pm
UPDATED: Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 5:32pm
Tyler, Texas — Skin cancer risks are present everyday, but during the summer months the sun can be more dangerous than ever.
This summer millions of Americans will spend their days saking up the sun. These UV rays might give you a dark tan and also a bad case of skin cancer.
Dermatologist Dr. Jenni Holman with Dermatology Associates of Tyler says, "Skin Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of different types of cells in the skin, pigment cells that cause melanoma."
At age twenty, Fox 51 anchor Rachel Rollar found out first hand how dangerous UV rays could be after she received the results from a routine mole check. Rollar explains, "She told me that I had three precancerous cells. Meaning, that if I didn't fix them now I'd have to go through the whole chemo process to get them removed properly."
Once Rollar was on the operating table doctors realized the sun's damage was even worse than they thought. Rollar had 57 spots that needed to be removed to prevent furthering.
This year the American Cancer Society estimates that 3.5 million Americans will receive news similar to Rollar's. Over 76 thousand of those cases will involve the deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma.
Dr. Holman says when you checking your moles for melanoma, look for a spot that "becomes asymetric, the borders become jagged, the color changes, or the diameter is bigger than a pencil eraser or six millimeters."
Getting melanoma isn't difficult. One sunburn increases your chances of getting this cancer while suffering five or more sunburns can double your lifetime risk.
Dermatologists usually remove these dangerous moles at their office, but sometimes the scarring is so severe patients need to see a plastic surgeon.
Dr. James Motlagh, plastic surgeon with Tyler Plastic Surgery says, "Generally the area is on the face and it's on a critical area around the eyes or the nose, or sometimes the lips. "
A scar from skin cancer removal can be up to six inches long and change a person's appearance forever.
Dr. Motlagh says, "We never know what's going to show up in terms of how much of a body part they've lost. Sometimes they show up with half of their nose missing or part of their ear gone and then we have to reconstruct that."
Skin cancer's damage is not just outward. Melanoma can spread to a person's lymphnodes and cause death.
There are many myths about protecting yourself from skin cancer, the most common being UV tanning beds are safer than the sun. Dermatologists quickly add they are seeing more melanoma from tanning beds than ever before on the "trunks and buttocks" from tanning practices.
In order to fully protect yourself, physcians urge those in the summer sun to use an SPF 30, with UVA and UVB protection (broad spectrum).