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More than skin deep: 2 kinds of skin cancer common

Published On: May 24 2013 05:00:00 AM CDT

More than skin deep

Mayfair in Allentown starts May 24th and that means many people will be out in the sun.

So we want to remind you to wear sunscreen as part of our year-long series "More Than Skin Deep."

Skin cancer effects millions of people every year and some end up with more than one type of the disease. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed in over two-million people every year.

Eighty-year-old Ed McLeane doesn't like to be cooped up in the house. "Fishing, boating, swimming, I like being outdoors," Ed said.

However, it was that love that almost cost his life. It started several years ago when he had a few skin cancer spots on his face and arms removed.

Then, it got more serious. "On January 3rd I was operated on for a mastectomy which was melanoma of the chest and they removed the left breast," explained Ed.

Fortunately, the melanoma hadn't spread. Ed said, "After that they took a PET scan, a full body scan to make sure I was cancer free."

He wasn't. Doctors found a spot of basal cell cancer. That's the most common form of skin cancer, far less lethal than melanoma but cancer nonetheless.

So how common is it to have more than one type of skin cancer? Very, according to doctors.

Dr. Rohit Sharma, surgical oncologist at Lehigh Valley Hospital, said, "Most of my population is elderly and they tend to have both the cancers occurring."

The reason, he said, is that both melanoma and basal cell cancers are generally caused by sun damage.

"The chronic skin damage that occurs from sun exposure is the adjoining factor between both melanomas and basal cells," Dr. Sharma explained.

So the best thing you can do is take some advice from Ed:

"Stay out of the sun or at least use some protective means about it," he pleaded.

Ed is now cancer-free and gets checked every six months.