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Healthy Summer Skin: Sun Protection from Skin Cancer

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Here, a take-charge guide to summer safety and sun protection, plus real women's skin cancer survival stories.

We Survived Skin Cancer

It's the second most common cancer for women between the ages of 20 and 29, and cases of the most common form, basal cell carcinoma, have tripled in women under 40 in the past 30 years. Yes, we're all at risk. But experts want you to know that if caught early, skin cancer is highly curable. And certainly, reading these stories of young female cancer survivors drives that point home. Here's what you can learn from them.

"My dermatologist had never seen so much sun damage in someone so young."

-- Jennifer Burke Labriola, 32, Westerly, Rhode Island
Age diagnosed: 30

When a dermatologist told me that he'd rarely seen anyone at 25 with such extensive sun damage, I started wearing SPF 8 in the summers. I thought that was all it took to protect my skin. Growing up, I was a competitive swimmer and a swim instructor, and by the end of every summer, I was always tan -- even sunburned. But somehow I never worried about developing skin cancer.

That changed when I was 30. I noticed that a mole on my chest had become raised and occasionally hurt. My dermatologist biopsied it, and I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. I was stunned, and finally got the message to stay out of the sun and protect myself in every way possible when I'm exposed. Now I wear SPF 30 moisturizer all over my body, plus powder with SPF 30 on my face. And I always carry sunscreen wipes in my bag so I can reapply often.

My family lives near the beach in Rhode Island, and we're all covered in sunscreen every day during the summer. I preach to my four younger sisters about sun protection; I don't want any of them to repeat my mistakes. The scar on my chest reminds me every day how fortunate I am to be alive.

Skin Check!

A skin self-exam can save your life. To find out how to do one and to see what melanoma, basal cell, and squamous cell carcinomas look like, go to the link below.

 

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6/22/2013 06:57:56 PM Report Abuse

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