Long time Suwanee, GA resident and one of the 2018 Pink Ribbon Classic honorees, Steve Hamilton, successfully battled prostate cancer in 2003, and after surgical removal of the prostate, he was declared cancer free. That is, until 2017, when he discovered a small, grey, cylindrical spot on the bottom of his eyebrow. He immediately made an appointment with his dermatologist, who opted to biopsy the growth. Steve and his wife Lori were shocked to learn of the diagnosis: melanoma. A PET scan (Positron Emission Tomography which shows abnormal activity on tissues and organs). The melanoma cancer had spread to his chest, chest bone, and spleen.
Steve’s oncologist recommended treatment of immunotherapy, which is a broad category of cancer treatment involving stimulating the body’s immune system to prevent, target, and eliminate cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, which uses drugs to fight the cancer cells, immunotherapy harnesses the body’s own immune system to do so. Steve was administered four intravenous treatments over a three-month period. Happily, the follow-up PET scan showed no more sign of the cancer; Steve was, again, cancer-free.
Steve’s story is a success story, and his success is largely because he followed up abnormalities quickly and caught the potentially deadly disease at a relatively early stage. As he advised during his speech at the 2018 Pink Ribbon Classic party, “I implore all of you to pay attention to your health. Regular visits to your dermatologist and regular visits to your doctor can save your life. The biggest key to fighting cancer is early detection.” Watch Steve’s inspiring speech here.
Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer. If you know what to look for, you can spot warning signs of skin cancer early. Finding it early, when it’s small and has not spread, makes skin cancer much easier to treat.
Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are the most common type of skin cancers are usually very treatable. They are typically found on sun-exposed areas of the body like the neck, arms, and head; however, they can show up anywhere. Signs of basal and squamous cell skin cancers are:
Melanoma is less common than other skin cancers but is one of the deadliest forms. Use the “ABCDE Rule” to look for some of the common signs of melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. Other types of skin cancer are much less common and account for less than 1% of all skin cancers. These include:
Steve also emphasizes the importance of not engaging in self-diagnosis, which is all too possible given our access to online information. He stressed that even his own dermatologist did not recognize the small melanoma and biopsied it from an abundance of caution. Many doctors also recommend that you perform your own skin exams about once a month. Most important, be sure to show your doctor any skin changes that concern you:
Early detection is the key to beating cancer. Read more about skin cancers at cancer.org.
Prostate and Melanoma Cancer Survivor
The American Cancer Society works to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer. To learn more about our organization and how you can help, visit cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345.
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