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We all know that Troy Aikman was a star Dallas Cowboys quarterback in the 1990s -- but what a lot of fans may not know is that the NFL Hall of Famer and FOX Sports Analyst, survived a health scare in 1998.
While drying off after a shower, he spotted a small, dark spot on his upper back that he didn't remember ever seeing before.
"Quite honestly, I didn't think a lot of it," Troy explains. "I just knew it was different."
When he told his sisters -- who are both nurses -- they didn't seem too concerned, but they *did* advise him to get it checked just in case.
So, when the pro football player visited his dermatologist for a separate issue, he thankfully remembered at the last minute to ask about the dark spot.
And after biopsy tests came back, the diagnosis was melanoma.
"I had no idea what melanoma was," Troy admits. "I got educated in a real hurry, and it scares you."
"I was fortunate that they caught it really early," he continues.
Today, Troy is a spokesperson for Novartis and this cause, and since May is Melanoma Awareness Month, the show and Rach's dermatologist, Dr. Anne Chapas, are also working with Novartis to help raise awareness.
"Skin cancer affects 1 in 5 Americans," Dr. Chapas says. "So it's very common."
"Melanoma is the most deadly kind of skin cancer," she continues. "If it's found early, it can be treated, but unfortunately if it's not found early and treated, it can be deadly. So it's important to check your skin."
Not to mention that once you've had skin cancer, Dr. Chapas says, you're at a higher risk of developing another one.
Luckily, she walked us through exactly what to look for while regularly inspecting our bodies:
A for Asymmetry: The two halves of the mole do not match.
B for Borders: The edges are irregular or uneven (scalloped, blurred, or notched).
C for Color: Multiple or changing shades of brown, tan, black, red, blue, or pink are present.
D for Diameter: Usually, but not always, larger than 6mm.
E for Evolution: Changes in appearance, such as size, shape, or color and/or changes in symptoms, such as bleeding, oozing, or itching.
"Anyone can get skin cancer," the doctor affirms. "Fortunately, we’ve had a lot of advancements in testing and treatment, including mutation or biomarker testing which is extremely important because it can help guide patients and their healthcare provider in finding treatment."
And while not all skin cancers and melanomas are caused by the sun, the dermatologist notes, sun exposure is a big risk factor.
That's exactly why Dr. Chapas gave us her top preventative tips:
1. Use SPF 30 every single day before you leave the house (and reapply every 1.5 hours when in the sun). And use SPF 50 if you know that you're going to be outside for prolonged periods.
2. Apply sunscreen BEFORE you put on your swimsuit, because most swimwear doesn't protect you from the sun. And don't forget about the backs of your hands and ears!
3. Use about a tablespoon of sunscreen per body part.
Hear more about her top tips in the video below:
Rachael's Dermatologist Shares Her Top Sun Protection Tips For Melanoma Skin Cancer Prevention
"If you see a suspicious spot, don't wait," the dermatologist stresses. "Don't hesitate to ask your doctor."
And as a survivor himself, Troy couldn't agree more.
"When it comes to melanoma being proactive is key, so make sure you talk to your doctor because there are treatment options," he advises. "I was lucky to have identified my disease in the early stages and have been cancer free for several years. However, I’ve learned that if melanoma is not caught early, it can become one of the most aggressive types of cancers.
"We want to rally behind people fighting this disease," the former quarterback continues. "And there’s a campaign called 'Melanoma Just Got Personal' that helps raise awareness so that newly diagnosed patients and supporters can find resources on how to fight it. Check out our Facebook page for more."
Troy Aikman is a paid spokesperson for Novartis.