Experts caution diligence against skin cancer

July 27, 2009 One man knows his fate and is warning you before it's too late.

This year, more than a million people will be told they have skin cancer. The worst kind -- melanoma -- will affect more than 60,000 Americans. 90 percent of skin cancers are caused by the sun. what you know and don't know about protecting yourself may be the difference between life and death.

Scott Lindstam has spent most of his life outside.

"I just spend as much time on the water as I can," he said.

All that time in the sun caused an unusual spot on his ear -- a spot he ignored.

"If you wait as long as I did, and don't know what it is, then you could be losing a body part," said Lindstam.

Lindstam lost his ear to skin cancer 10 years ago. Now, he's losing his life.

"When I went in, my cancer had spread to my back, and now it's growing through my bones… all through my vertebrae and my ribs," Lindstam said.

Caucasians are most at risk. One in three white people will have skin cancer in their lifetime. Experts caution the use of the ABCs.

"A is for asymmetry, meaning it's not perfectly round," said Dennis Rousseau, M.D., Ph.D., surgical oncologist, Florida Hospital Cancer Institute, Orlando, Fla. "B is border irregularity, meaning if you look at the borders, they're jagged or not smooth. C is color variations. They tend to have multiple colors. D is diameter, 6 millimeters or larger, we get concerned about a mole, and E is expansion. Any mole that gets bigger is at risk."

Because of skin cancer, Lindstam is forced inside, and he knows, soon, even this will be too difficult for him.

"When you wake up, people take a lot of things for granted, and I just take mine day to day," said Lindstam.

Two years ago, Lindstam was given six months to live. Now, every day he beats the odds and warns everyone he can: if they see a problem, get it checked. It could save your life.

One bad burn when you're a kid doubles your risk for melanoma later in life. People suffer most of their sun damage as kids. Babies six months of age or younger should be kept completely out of direct sun at all times. Do not apply sunscreen to infants this age. After six months, apply it every time you go outside.

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