Even a superhero isn’t immune to the sun’s powerful rays.
Hugh Jackman revealed to the world via Instagram and Twitter that he underwent yet another procedure for skin cancer. The 48-year-old Australian actor took the opportunity to share a posttreatment photo in order to raise awareness for the disease.
This is the fifth time the Wolverine star has had a basal cell carcinoma removed from his nose. In fact, he issued the same warning to the public last February after procedure No. 4 had been performed.
“Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer,” Mark Faries, MD, surgical oncologist and director of the Donald L. Morton, MD, Melanoma Research Program, which is part of the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells Yahoo Beauty. “It is usually non-life threatening and especially common for people who are regularly exposed to ultraviolet [UV] rays, like those living in warmer climates, such as Australia.”
In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 4 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
Kally Papantoniou, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist and a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Dermatology, tells Yahoo Beauty that basal cell carcinoma is the least-aggressive type of skin cancer and is relatively slow growing.
“However, leaving this untreated will lead to more challenging treatment later, with larger surgical scars, longer recovery, and risk to surrounding structures such as the eyes,” she explains. “It is important to treat this earlier for the best outcomes.”
While neither doctor has treated Jackman, both believe the fair-skinned stage and screen star most likely has recurrent basal cell carcinomas due to chronic sun damage over his lifetime.
“He comes from a part of the world with some of the highest skin cancer rates, which is in part due to the lifestyle and sun exposure risks,” adds Papantoniou. “These cancers are often due to the exposures we had when we were in our young teens and 20s.”
Along with having yearly skin examinations, Faries couldn’t agree more with Jackman’s No. 1 prevention tip: Wear sunscreen. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher each day. For extended outdoor activity, it advises applying a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
And Faries adds that sunscreen should be applied year-round — whether you’re skiing down a mountain or swimming in the ocean — since the sun’s reflection off the snow and the water can lead to higher UV exposure.
“That doesn’t mean you cannot live a normal life,” concludes Faries. “You just need to be diligent about taking care of your skin.”