Skin cancer survivor says know the signs

Christine Sprouse is a skin cancer survivor

Melanoma cases have increased by more than 20,000 over the past nine years, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Since May is recognized as Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a local dermatologist reminds everyone to practice sun safety.

Christine Sprouse is a medical assistant at Grand Strand Dermatology but eight years ago, she was also a patient. After a biopsy on a mole on her stomach, she was diagnosed with melanoma.

"I have a scar that's probably three and a half, four inches long and it was very scary and i was concerned, hey I've had one, am I gonna have another?"

That's a fear Sprouse may have to live with for the rest of her life. She's part of a generation that wasn't as educated on the dangers of sun exposure.

"We didn't know that the sun was bad for you. My mother used to say go outside, get out of the house, get outside and we did," she explained.

Dr. Nathan Jones, a dermatologist who works with Sprouse, says the number of people getting skin cancer has exploded over the past ten years, many of them from the baby boomer generation.

"There was no reason to think otherwise so yeah absolutely it was just a generation that was exposed on purpose and they're sort of paying the consequence of that today," Dr. Jones explained.

Sprouse is facing those consequences today, 20 or 30 years after being exposed.

"Years ago, got out in the sun, sunburned, I've had terrible sunburns and I got in the tanning beds," she said.

Sprouse's best advice for any generation is to get checked early and often and be aware of what's on your body.

She explains it's important to watch for anything that changes, turns darker, is not perfectly a circle, anything out the ordinary and get in the habit of wearing sunscreen every day.