Healthy Summer Skin: Sun Protection from Skin Cancer
"My darker skin made me think I wasn't at risk."
-- Maria Battista Dzurilla, 38, Wilton, Connecticut
Age diagnosed: 37
I have olive skin, zero freckles, and no family history of skin cancer, so I wasn't that worried when I noticed the tiny black dot on my arm while we were on vacation in Florida back in 2005. At first I thought it was a tick, but when I tried to remove it, a piece just flaked off. I remembered reading that this was a possible sign of skin cancer, but I still wasn't too concerned. I should have been -- I've since learned that skin cancer in people with darker complexions can be more deadly because it's often diagnosed at later, harder-to-treat stages, because the skin changes aren't as visible until the disease has advanced. Plus, I'd had two burns as a teenager -- one in Florida when I was 13 and one in the Bahamas five years later -- and this also raises your risk of the disease.
When I got back home, I went to my dermatologist, and he took a biopsy. A week later I got the call saying it was stage I melanoma. I was terrified that it had spread to other parts of my body, but the doctor removed more skin around the area and thankfully it came back cancer-free.
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