As Summer Looms, Doctors Warn Of Pre-Cancerous Sun Damage To The Lips

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– As we get ready to welcome in the sunny summer months, doctors are reminding people of the danger for skin cancer.

Monique Griego has more on the unusual places doctors are seeing cancer pop up.

Anita Meyerhuber spent years dealing with irritated lips.

“It just always looked chapped. It was red and sometimes flaky, ” she said.

But she didn’t think she had anything to worry about until visiting dermatologist Dr. Noelle Sherber.

“I just thought I had chapped lips. I had no idea it could be cancer,” Meyerhuber said.

She was diagnosed with actinic cheilitis or precancerous sun damage of the lips– a condition that’s becoming more common.

“People who used a lot of lip gloss, went to the beach a lot when they were teenagers, are now coming into their 40s and we’re seeing a lot of sun damage on the lips,” Sherber explained.

Sherber said many women don’t realize lip gloss can increase risks.

“The shine from it just accentuates UV rays like a reflector,” she said.

As part of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Sherber wants to remind people to protect their lips with an SPF, along with sunblocking their bodies.

One in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

While most people are looking for lesions or black spots…

“Many skin cancers don’t look like that,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s a red area that doesn’t heal properly. Maybe it bleeds easily, and in Anita’s [Meyerhuber] case it was chapped lips.”

Pre-cancerous lip damage like Meyerhuber’s can be treated in a few days with a topical creme. Just two weeks later, she was healed.

Now, she’s just thankful Sherber caught things early.

“Without her, it could have gotten a lot worse than it was,” Meyerhuber said.

Children should wear an SPF of at least 45.

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