Men older than 50 at risk for skin cancer


HOUSTON – In men older than 50, skin cancer is No. 1 -- ahead of prostate, lung and colon cancer.

Men who spend a lot of time outdoors and do not take care of their skin like women tend to do are at risk.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.

Going out to the rodeo doesn't always sound the alarm for sunscreen, but if you're spending weeks after weeks going out to NRG Stadium, you're exposed to harmful UV rays.

And some reminders to protect your skin comes from the Houston rodeo's highest leaders.

Former CEO at the Houston livestock show and rodeo, Leroy Schafer, grew up on a ranch.

“I drove tractors, rode horses without hats, because we wanted that suntan,” Schafer said.

Never wearing sun protection, Schafer was the ultimate tough guy -- until his younger brother died from melanoma and the bad news kept coming when Schafer was diagnosed with skin cancer.

“She looked me over and saw a place on the top, back of my head … Within seven days of that point, I was in surgery at MD Anderson,” Schafer said.

Dr. Sherry Ingraham said skin cancer is almost expected in patients like Schafer.

“If more of the rodeo-involved individuals realize that their colleagues, their friends have endured skin cancer, have had their lives saved by finding a melanoma early, maybe they, too, would be inclined to use more sunscreen,” Ingraham said.

Unfortunately, Schafer isn't the only one who spends days at NRG Stadium in the sun and ended up under Ingraham's scope.

Ranch rodeo Committeeman, Pat Drake said his wife found a cancerous spot on his shoulder last year.

“Little spot that I couldn’t tell it was anything wrong, anything different than a freckle,” Drake said.

Ingraham said skin cancers more frequently show up in men on their heads, neck, ears and shoulder, places where women can be covered by hair or clothing.

“Tell your hairdresser, tell your spouse, look through your scalp, look behind your ears, places where skin cancers can lurk but may not often be seen,” Ingraham said.

Both Schafer and drake said they are doing well now.

“The one lesson here is to listen to your wife,” Drake said, as he laughed off a serious statement about getting to the doctor.

Drake and Schafer told KPRC 2 even if someone told them to use sunscreen, they would not have done it before getting cancer.

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