The recent death of “Margaritaville” singer Jimmy Buffett from skin cancer at 76 is a good reason to think about the disease.
Buffett’s website said he had Merkel cell carcinoma for four years. “A rare and aggressive form of skin cancer, Merkel cell is diagnosed only about 2,500 times a year in the United States, and until recent years it had carried a life expectancy of five months,” The New York Times reported.
Most skin cancers are diagnosed in people over 65. Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, with 1 in 5 getting it by age 70. It is also the most preventable, according to the National Council on Aging.
Skin cancer is usually treated successfully, and early diagnosis helps.
It is also usually preventable. The council says, “It’s never too late to change your habits and reduce your risk of skin cancer. It’s important to protect your skin from UV radiation year-round, including on cloudy and hazy days.”
To reduce risk the CDC says:
- Avoid sun or stay in shade during hottest hours.
- Wear clothes that cover arms and legs, and a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face, head, ears and neck.
- Wear sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection.
- Avoid indoor tanning.
- Examine your skin once a month and tell your doctor about any changes. Annual skin-care checks with a dermatologist are also commonly suggested.