Rachel Maddow Says Early Detection Saved Her in Skin Cancer Bout: What to Look For

The MSNBC anchor urged viewers to schedule routine skin checks with their doctors during an episode of “The Rachel Maddow Show” Wednesday

Rachel Maddow on set of her MSNBC show
Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Rachel Maddow is the latest advocate for skin cancer prevention and early detection.

The MSNBC anchor urged viewers to schedule routine skin checks with their doctors during an episode of “The Rachel Maddow Show” Wednesday, revealing she underwent surgery last week for a cancerous mole on her neck.

Here's what to do to stay aware of changes to your body:

How to avoid skin cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States but can be prevented. The most effective methods of prevention include avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors, according to the National Cancer Institute

Risk factors are factors that increase the likelihood of getting the disease and include being exposed to natural or artificial sunlight (such as from tanning beds) over long periods of time. Other risk factors include smoking, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise. 

Can you get skin cancer from the sun?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says protecting your skin from the sun’s UV rays helps to lower your risk of getting skin cancer. Some ways to do this include staying in the shade, wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs, wearing a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears and neck, wearing sunglasses that and block UVA and UVB rays and using a sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher. Avoiding indoor tanning is another preventative measure against skin damage.

What does skin cancer look like?

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends checking your skin for abnormalities once a month. Some things to look for when performing self-checks are any growths, moles, birthmarks or brown spots that increase in size, thickness, change color or texture, or are bigger than a pencil eraser. Also pay attention to spots or sores that itch, hurt, crust, scab or bleed for more than three weeks.

What are the types of skin cancer?

There are several types of skin cancer. The most common is nonmelanoma skin cancer, which begins in cells that form the outer layer of skin, such as skin that is often exposed to sunlight. Melanoma is less common but more dangerous, and forms in moles or skin pigment. 

How is skin cancer treated?

Treatment for skin cancer varies based on the type, but common care includes surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, chemical peels and other drug therapies.

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