Indiana woman warns others after her skin cancer leads to brain tumor years later

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A local woman is recovering after having a brain tumor removed just a few weeks ago and now we've learned the tumor stemmed from her skin cancer diagnosis more than a decade ago.

"I've had my skin checked, everything has been fine and then three weeks ago I have metastatic melanoma on my brain," Amanda Anderson said.

Amanda was diagnosed with melanoma and had the cancerous spot removed from her back 11 years ago. However, a cancerous cell was still in her body and set up shop in her brain. After being diagnosed with skin cancer as a 21-year-old she was still carefree about her skin.

“Even afterward, I was going out to water parks with the kids and I wasn't covering like I should like I'm fine they got it all and I wasn't taking care of myself honestly as much as I should have been," Amanda said.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness month. And with hot sunny days ahead, dermatologists are warning all of us to protect our skin.

"Try to avoid the sun rays between the times of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Number two consider like I said clothing. Lightweight clothing, wide brim hats, long sleeves," said Dr. Sonya Campbell Johnson of Dermatology Associates.

Johnson says we should apply waterproof sunscreen generously about every two hours.

"Don't go to tanning beds number one. People are still doing that and I hear ‘Well, I'm getting ready for the sun.’ OK, there's other ways you can do that like gradually increase your duration in the sun but still apply your sunscreen," Johnson said.

All tips Amanda says she wish she would have followed, now she's taking care of herself and treating life like a fragile gift.

"For me it's changed my entire perspective of how we should be taking care of our bodies, we should take care of ourselves and how we should treat other in general and how we should be living our lives."

The Indiana State Department of Health released the following tips as part of Skin Cancer Awareness month:

  • Check the Environmental Protection Agency’s UV Index if you will be spending time outdoors. The higher the index number, the greater the risk of sunburn and skin damage. The index can be found here.
  • Seek shade, especially during midday.
  • Cover exposed skin with protective clothing.
  • Shade the face, head, ears and neck with a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Wear sunglasses that provide as close to 100 percent UVA and UVB protection as possible.
  • Wear sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection for both UVA and UVB rays and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater for longer periods of sun exposure.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
  • Avoid the use of tanning beds and sunlamps.
  • Keep children younger than six months old out of direct sunlight and dress them in protective clothing. Teach children about the dangers of tanning beds and sun exposure and the importance of wearing sunscreen whenever outdoors.

The best way to detect skin cancer early is to check skin regularly for the appearance of new growths or moles or changes in existing ones. Follow the ABCDE rule:

  • A = Asymmetry: One half of a mole or lesion does not match the other half.
  • B = Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • C = Color: Pigmentation is not uniform, with variable degrees of tan, brown, or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  • D = Diameter: The diameter is greater than 6 millimeters, or about the size of a pencil eraser, although melanomas can sometimes be smaller.
  • E = Evolution: Existing moles change shape, size or color over time. Any sudden increase in the size of an existing mole should be checked.

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