This short article has four parts:
A Tan to Die For?
One Midlife Bachelor's Brush with Deadly Melanoma
Suggestions to Avoid the Melanoma Scare
Skin Cancer Staging System
A Tan to Die For?
How much is having a great tan really worth to you? When people say “he (or she) has a tan to die for” – there can be more truth to that than the expression is meant to imply. There can be some extremely serious consequences from prolonged exposure to the sun … and until you’ve gone through a scare at the dermatologist yourself, you might be inclined to just write this discussion off.
I have always invited readers of midlifebachelor.com to submit their stories and experiences – so that our midlife bachelors and bachelorettes can leverage our collective midlife knowledge. Brian T., age 52, of San Jose, CA thought that his story about skin cancer might benefit us all – and I fully agree. I, myself, am fair-complected … I have fair skin, and light brown hair which was more of a reddish color when I was younger. I am age 43 now, but in my twenties and thirties, I spent a lot of time in the sun … even going to tanning salons in my mid-twenties. I burned and peeled so many times that I lost count. And then roughly two years ago, I had a strange-looking object … like a pink mole … start growing on the backside of my right hand. I had a dermatologist sample and analyze it … and it turned out to be benign. But I did wind up having a plastic surgeon remove it, at the dermatologist’s suggestion. I was fairly scared and concerned while waiting for the results of the biopsy … but for me, it turned out to be nothing. Reader Brian T, on the other hand, had a much more serious experience … which I will now share with you.
One Midlife Bachelor’s Brush with Deadly Melanoma Skin Cancer
Written by Brian T, Age 52, San Jose, CA
Edited by midlifebachelor.com
As a child, and adult in my twenties, I spent a lot of time in the sun. I had many sun burns with some blistering through the years. Having light skin and reddish hair, it didn't take much to get burned by too much sun exposure. About my mid-thirties I started getting rough, scaly dry spots, with some of them becoming different colors from the rest of my skin (Red, White, or Blue spots- same colors as the American flag...)
I went to a dermatologist who used liquid nitrogen to "burn" them off. I went every year through my thirties. Some of the spots would come back in three months, so the Dermatologist would scrap them off with a scraping knife. These spots were called “actinic keratoses” (see Understanding Actinic Keratoses on WebMD), and are a precursor to skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma – see Skin Cancer - WebMD) About the same time, I had white rings around many of the moles on my body. The doctor called this “Halo Nevus” (see SkinCancerNet article on halo nevi) but told me not to be concerned because it usually doesn't mean cancer. Here is one example of what actinic keratoses can look like: