WASHINGTON, July 26, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., and his youngest daughter, Briana Bilbray, share more in common than family ties and a love of the outdoors. They both have been diagnosed with skin cancer and are speaking out about it in an effort to encourage others to prevent and detect skin cancer early.
"Being tan was a big part of my life," said Briana, 25, in the video. "Being in San Diego, it was the look."
Briana's family encouraged her to bring a mole on her shin to her doctor's attention, which Briana postponed. She was later diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in spring 2011 and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. She has since relapsed twice, the most recent of which brought about a need for radiation treatments, which she underwent in April 2012.
"Until something's done and they find a treatment that can stop this disease, I am going to be going through this probably the rest of my life," said Briana. "The pain that I am putting my family through because of my negligence is the worst feeling in the world and all I had to do was wear sunscreen."
Just two weeks after Briana's diagnosis in 2011, her father was diagnosed with another form of skin cancer – squamous cell carcinoma – which occurred as a white patch on his lip. Rep. Bilbray had surgery to remove the cancer and an additional surgery to reconstruct the lip.
"It's absolutely essential that everyone understand it's our job to detect skin cancer," said Rep. Bilbray. "Whenever in doubt, go talk to a board-certified dermatologist. Find out about it."
"Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer, so it's vitally important that people wear sunscreen, cover up and seek shade," said board-certified dermatologist Daniel M. Siegel, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy). "Skin cancer is a serious health matter in this country and we hope the Bilbray family's story will serve as a wake-up call for people to protect their skin."
More than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in 2 million Americans each year. Current estimates are that one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer in teens and young adults 15 to 29 years old.
The Bilbrays are serving as SPOTlighters with the Academy's SPOT Skin Cancer™ public awareness campaign. The campaign's simple tagline – "Prevent. Detect. Live." – focuses on the positive actions people can take to protect themselves from skin cancer, including seeing a dermatologist when appropriate. Visitors to SpotSkinCancer.org can learn how to perform a skin self-exam, download a body mole map to track changes in their skin, and find free skin cancer screenings in their area. Those affected by skin cancer can share their story via the website and download free materials to educate others in their community. The Bilbray family's video is posted to the SPOT Skin Cancer™ website and the Academy's YouTube channel.
Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 17,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at (888) 462-DERM (3376) or www.aad.org. Follow the Academy on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology) or Twitter (@AADskin).
Congressman Brian Bilbray represents the California 50th Congressional district within San Diego County. The Congressman serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee with jurisdiction communications, consumer protections, energy, environment, and health; as well as co-chair of the House Biomedical Research Caucus.
SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology