Ex-pro surfer who had close-up with skin cancer urges others to be diligent with checkups

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Pro surfer who had a close call with skin cancer after noticing a persistent ‘little scab’ on his head reveals warning sign he saw before it was too late

  • Jake Paterson, 48, was a professional Australian surfer for 20 years
  • He always protected himself from the sun, but found it difficult to protect his head
  • Last October, he noticed a tiny recurring scab on the top of his head
  • After a visit to his GP in January 2021, it was on the verge of cancer
  • Jake now urges others to have their skin checked annually and wear sunscreen all year round

An ex-professional surfer has urged Australians to be thorough with skin checks after a tiny recurring scab on his head was about to turn into cancer.

Jake Paterson, a 48-year-old general manager from Perth, has surfed professionally for 20 years and said he always tried to protect himself from the sun as much as possible, but found it difficult to protect his head.

He first noticed the crust last October, but didn’t visit his doctor until the end of January 2021 because it didn’t seem sinister and was the size of a fingernail.

“The only warning sign was that the scab never healed and my wife kept bugging me to get me checked,” he told Daily Mail Australia.

After seeing his local doctor and undergoing a full body scan, Jake was operated on urgently because the doctor “knew immediately” that the dry crust needed to be removed.

Jake Paterson, a 48-year-old Perth executive (pictured), urges Australians to be thorough with skin checks after a tiny recurring scab on his head was about to turn into cancer

Jake surfed professionally for 20 years and said he always tried to protect himself from the sun as much as possible, but found it difficult to protect his head

Jake surfed professionally for 20 years and said he always tried to protect himself from the sun as much as possible, but found it difficult to protect his head

Before the surgery, the doctor advised Jake that the irritated skin would “only get worse,” so no biopsy was performed.

“12 stitches later and I had a big hole in my head, but the surgery went well,” he said.

Later tests on the removed layer of skin showed it would have turned into cancerous melanoma had he not had it checked – which was a huge wake-up call.

“It was shocking because I was kind of blasé about it, I wasn’t worried about it, even though the result could have been a lot worse,” he said.

“I’m glad I went to the doctor when I did, instead of waiting and assuming it will fix itself.”

Jake said he hadn’t seen his doctor before because the scab “didn’t affect his lifestyle” and he often takes a carefree attitude.

“The only warning sign was that the scab never healed and my wife kept bugging me to get checked,” he told Daily Mail Australia.

After seeing his local doctor and undergoing a full body scan, Jake was operated on urgently because the doctor 'knew' immediately that the dry crust needed to be removed

After seeing his local doctor and undergoing a full body scan, Jake was operated on urgently because the doctor ‘knew’ immediately that the dry crust needed to be removed

What are the signs of skin cancer?

There are three main types of skin cancer: melanoma (including nodular melanoma), basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.

Melanoma: The most deadly form of skin cancer and if left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body. Appears as a new spot or an existing spot that changes color, size, or shape.

Basal cell carcinoma: Most common, least dangerous form of skin cancer. Red, pale or pearly in color, appears as a lump or dry, flaky area. Grows slowly, usually in areas with frequent sun exposure.

Squamous cell carcinoma: A thickened, red scaly area that can bleed, crust, or sore easily. Grows for several months, usually in areas with frequent sun exposure. More common in people over 50 years of age.

Jake said his main focus is to educate others about the importance of protecting your skin by wearing sunscreen all year round and not just during the warmer months.

‘Many people don’t realize that the sun’s UV rays don’t disappear with the summer. Anytime the UV index goes above three, there is a risk of sun damage, ”he said.

“In many parts of Australia this is a regular occurrence throughout the winter – so if you’re outside, sitting near an office window, or driving for extended periods of time, it’s important to wear sunscreen.”

He also wants to encourage others to be diligent about annual skin checks, and not when something is wrong.

Don’t procrastinate to be monitored; it shouldn’t be a burden, but rather something that you incorporate into your routine at the beginning or end of each year, ”he said.

According to the Cancer Council, sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before UV exposure to create a protective barrier.

Jake said his main focus is to educate others about the importance of protecting your skin by wearing sunscreen all year round and not just during the warmer months.

Jake said his main focus is to educate others about the importance of protecting your skin by wearing sunscreen all year round and not just during the warmer months.

Now Jake is the Managing Director of Australian-made skincare brand We Are Feel Good Inc, which was founded in 2015

The company sells sunscreen products that nourish and protect the skin from the harsh Australian sun and harsh outdoor conditions

Now Jake is the Managing Director of Australian-made skincare brand We Are Feel Good Inc, which was founded in 2015

Now Jake is the Managing Director of Australian-made skincare brand We Are Feel Good Inc, which was founded in 2015.

The company sells sunscreen products that nourish and protect the skin from the harsh Australian sun and harsh outdoor conditions.

Some of the products include coconut moisturizers, body milk serums, zinc creams, baby-safe sunscreens, and bundle packs.

The products are extensively tested to perform under pressure in all climates.

Top tips for applying sunscreen

* Apply to clean, dry skin 15 to 30 minutes before you go out into the sun to give it time to get in contact with your skin. Reapply it just before you leave – you’ll increase the amount applied and you are more likely to get the stated SPF benefit.

* Cover all parts of the body that are not protected by clothing (don’t forget your ears, the back of your neck, the back of your hands, and the top of your feet).

* Apply evenly and don’t rub in excessively – most sunscreens will soak into the outer skin layer and don’t need to be rubbed in vigorously.

* Repeat at least once every two hours and after swimming or exercising.

* Think beyond the beach and pool – use sunscreen when going out for extended periods of time, such as to the park, a lunch stroll to the shops, exercising or gardening.

* Store your sunscreen at a temperature of less than 30 degrees Celsius. Leaving it in your car’s glove compartment or in the sun can cause it to lose its effectiveness. Keep it in the esky with the drinks, in the shade or wrapped in a towel.

* Do not use expired sunscreens as they may have lost their effectiveness.

Source: Choice

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