Hugh Jackman shared he might have basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, in a new Instagram post. In a video, he urged people to use sunscreen as the weather gets warmer and sunnier in many places.
Jackman, 54, was wearing a bandage on his nose in the video and said his doctor recently noticed a spot there and ordered two biopsies to confirm whether it’s cancerous. “I’ll find out in two or three days, and as soon as I know, I’ll let you know,” he said. “Just to remind you: Basal cell, in the world of skin cancers, is the least dangerous of them all.” Jackman has previously received treatment for basal cell carcinoma several times, including having skin cancer removed from his nose in 2013.
Even so, Jackman said, you should take certain measures to protect your skin as much as possible. “If I can just take this opportunity to remind you: Summer is coming for those of us here in the northern hemisphere. Please wear sunscreen. It is just not worth it,” Jackman said. “No matter how much you want to tan: Trust me, trust me, trust me.”
Jackman explained that he thinks the damage done to his skin occurred decades ago. “This is all stuff that happened 25 years ago, and it’s coming out now,” he said. The fact that skin cancer can show up many years after unprotected sun exposure isn’t something many people think about, Joshua Zeichner, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and a cofounder of JORI Skincare, tells SELF. “[Though] it is well known that bad sunburns can increase your risk of skin cancer, what you may not realize is [that] even low-grade incidental UV light exposure can increase your risk over a lifetime,” Dr. Zeicher says.
He likens the risk to that of poor dental hygiene. “Missing a single day of sunscreen in your everyday life is unlikely to cause significant harm to the skin. However, missing it every day will increase your risk of skin cancer,” he says. “A similar analogy [is] brushing your teeth: If you forget to brush your teeth for one day, you probably won’t get a cavity. If you stop brushing altogether, cavities will be inevitable.”
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