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A Lifetime of horses=major sun exposure=skin cancer?

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  • A Lifetime of horses=major sun exposure=skin cancer?

    Just got off the phone with my dermatologist who told me that funny red patch on my forehead he'd biopsied on Wednesday was a basal cell skin cancer. He knows I'm a horse owner, and said it's not uncommon with fair skinned people who have horses and spend hours outside every day.

    He didn't sound that concerned, and I googled it immediately, but who has had this and what was your experience? He said he was pretty sure he got it all, and wants me to apply a skin cream once it's nearly healed that is "topical chemotherapy".

    Anyone? I am pretty religious about applying sunscreen every day, but apparently that wasn't enough. Or maybe I'm not using the right stuff.

  • #2
    So sorry you have a skin cancer scare. As a native Arizonan (now in PNW) I have a higher risk than many others. Sun exposure in SW US is higher - due to climate. Ranchers, biologists, field workers -- all have higher risk for skin cancers.

    Hats, long sleeves help. Don't forget to put sunscreen on the back of your neck, ears and back of your hands too. Feet if your a sandal lover.


    • #3
      Sunscreen has to be reapplied more than people think. And like Justa Bob says, hats and long sleeves. A brim all around is better than a ball cap. (And stylish. Everyone on my cruise kept saying how they loved my straw hat.)
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      • #4
        Big straw hats and SPF 45, My friend, and former barn owner, had it on her nose. Removed twice. She is fine, but is never not covered up in the sun.


        • #5
          Double check the ingredients in your sunscreen!!! Certain ones, especially retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A) are associated with INCREASED risk of skin cancer. Oxybenzone isn't as safe as once thought either. As far as I know, titanium dioxide & zinc oxide are okay, but with the zinc oxide, now they're saying the clear, non-whitening kind is made of nanoparticles that penetrate the skin, and they might be harmful....so we're stuck with the white stuff! Big hats are sounding better every day.


          • #6
            I just went in for a check up at 42 yrs old. The Derm looked a little puzzled at why I was in for a check up. I responded that I was an equestrian with lots of exposure and I wanted to be checked.

            I also pointed out that I had a dark, scaly patch on my left cheek bone I wanted doubly checked. Its not cancer, just my very own "barnacle". I will get yearly checks to make sure I'm still good.

            OP: I have known a couple of people who used the chemo cream on spots that needed to be "zapped". One was a gentleman who had to use it on most of his face. He said his beard growing in was the most painful part of the experience. Be thankful that's not a problem for you. The other was a lady who had done several years life guarding at the beach.. She had spots on and around her lips. She was overly concerned about their appearance and others seeing it than I think was necessary. She would come to the barn with bandaids on her lips so that nobody would see them. She MIGHT see one other person, and I wasn't squemish.

            Wishing you a easy treatment process!


            • #7
              I have had dozens removed. The worst was my nose, but that was 50 years ago and it still is OK.

              Most important thing is to go back to the dermatologist regularly. Every six months.

              Also, it runs in families. My Dad had lots of places cut off but he died at 97 and would have easily made 100 but Mother died at 94 and Dad said he wanted to die and be with her.

              In 10 days he was dead.

              So even if it runs in the family, go back every six months for an exam.

              I have had as many as six frozen with the liquid nitrogen at one visit.

              Still here at 85, still riding at 85.

              Just not enough.

              Yes, wear a big hat when not on the horse. Of course you have to wear a crash helmet when riding so some sort of lotion.

              But remember that most of the damage has already been done and if you never ever went out of the house again you would still have those little things pop up on your face and ears.

              So have them checked every six months and if something looks odd, go between appointments.


              • #8
                Fresh bottle of waterproof sweatproof spf 45 every spring; big silly floppy hat. ( i get compliments on it.) cool mesh is spf 30 by virtue of the weave; that's what i ride in for about nine months out of the year.

                As my dermatologist says "grease yourself up good."
                Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry.


                • #9
                  It is indeed not uncommon at all for anyone who spends a lot of time outside. Many of the "old guard" at work -- fisheries biology -- have lots of bits chopped off all the time as few wore much sunscreen 30 years ago in that crowd and spend every day of field season, all day, outside. I had several removed as early as when I was 18 and we always use sunscreen, so there you go. At work, we go for spf 30 or higher and apply liberally and always wear a hat when we aren't underwater. Although it's significantly less work when you are wearing a wetsuit, LOL.
                  Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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                  • #10
                    I think it does depend on where you live as the sun is stronger in some parts of the country / world. But definitely have routine skin exams, and be proactive if you suspect something's not right!

                    I keep a bottle of SPF 30 sunscreen in my grooming box, my car, my purse. Reapply throughout the day even in winter. I have fair skin, blond hair, blue eyes, and even though there is no history of skin cancer in my family, I am not taking any chances.

                    I've had numerous moles removed and biopsied over the years, all came back negative, but you just never know. I had a big ugly one removed recently, negative again, and I asked the (new to me) doctor to check me out, but she seemed very nonchalant about it...I think I'll go somewhere else for my next check-up.

                    We horse people sometimes don't realize that when riding a horse outdoors, and even more in a sandy outdoor ring, you do get a lot of sun exposure!
                    Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


                    • #11
                      Been there, done that. I got a spot on my nose taken off with MOHS surgery about 4 years ago (that was NOT a good time) and continue to get weird spots frozen and then use the chemical cream on them. I constantly nag the young uns' at the barn about using sunscreen. Skin cancer is not fun.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by skyy View Post
                        Been there, done that. I got a spot on my nose taken off with MOHS surgery about 4 years ago (that was NOT a good time) and continue to get weird spots frozen and then use the chemical cream on them. I constantly nag the young uns' at the barn about using sunscreen. Skin cancer is not fun.
                        The MOH surgery is a wonderful wonderful thing.
                        I have had dozens and dozens of skin cancers removed. Right now I have stitches in my neck from one taken off last week, a whole in my shoulder from one burned off last week. I go back Tues. to get a basil taken off my cheek and my arm.

                        The two I just had removed were the squamish kind. Not the kind you want to have. If you just have to have them the basil is the way to go, OP.
                        You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by skyy View Post
                          Been there, done that. I got a spot on my nose taken off with MOHS surgery about 4 years ago (that was NOT a good time) and continue to get weird spots frozen and then use the chemical cream on them. I constantly nag the young uns' at the barn about using sunscreen. Skin cancer is not fun.
                          The MOH surgery is a wonderful wonderful thing.
                          I have had dozens and dozens of skin cancers removed. Right now I have stitches in my neck from one taken off last week, a hole in my shoulder from one burned off last week. I go back Tues. to get a basil taken off my cheek and my arm.

                          The two I just had removed were the squamish kind. Not the kind you want to have. If you just have to have them the basil is the way to go, OP.
                          You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.


                          • #14
                            Yup just had a biopsy taken off my shoulder and am awaiting the results. My guess at most is basal cell or its just precancerous. I was a working student/barn manager for over 3 years and never wore sun screen. Young and stupid, so now I have lovely brown pigment on my face and possibly skin cancer at 28 yrs old.
                            I love cats, I love every single cat....
                            So anyway I am a cat lover
                            And I love to run.


                            • #15
                              I have been doing my own experiments with olive oil and shea butter. I had a link somewhere that they are sunscreen in their own right. Not the high numbers of course, but something like up to 10spf. If you're really concerned about the ingreds of commercial sunscreen, maybe check out the 'natural' things. Of course, natural doesn't always mean good. Nightshade is natural and will kill you quickly, but I don't think you have to worry about olive oil and shea butter. I order shea butter from Ghana.

                              Also, make sure your immune system is working. I had a crusty, didn't know what it was, kept picking at it. One day, gone. A whole bunch of them, gone. Doctor said may have been my immune system kicked in and sloughed them. ?? But I'm a fan of the freezing stuff.
                              GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!


                              • #16
                                Take care to wear good sunglasses as well...especially if you have light colored eyes. I had cataract surgery at 45 and they said it was most likely because of the time I spend in the sun.
                                Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. –Sebastian Junger


                                • #17
                                  thanks for the reminder to call the dermatologist...for thast crusty spot on my face. I have been 'picking' at it for 6 mos. I just hate the feeling of slathered on creams of any kind but living in FL, you see lots of folks with


                                  • #18
                                    /raise hand. No cancerous lesions removed yet, but it's coming, as *everyone* in my family ends up with them. My grandmother died from the squamous kind, but there were special circumstances... when she was a teen (born 1902), there was this new "X-ray" treatment for acne, and her father was a doctor, so... She was 91 when she died, but it was still very hard to watch her decline, especially when she became too frail for surgery and had bleeding lumps all over her face, and the other residents at the retirement facility where she lived did not want her to eat in the dining room with them. She moved into a nursing home not long after that and never ate another meal "in public." Eventually the tumors grew into her blood vessels and she died.

                                    Anyway. I do wear sunscreen, SPF 45, and have clip-on sunglasses (I need to wear more often as I have the start of cataracts in both eyes at age 49.)

                                    I am looking into getting a riding helmet visor and will post about that separately.
                                    You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                                    1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thanks for all the replies. I guess my dr. was right when he said it comes with the territory for his patients who spend so much time outside.


                                      • #20
                                        Yep. I went ot the skin dr. a few years back because of a tiny place on my shoulder that wouldn't heal and just seemed no quite right. She started off saying that she thought it was nothing but then decided to biopsy it. I was basal cell carcinoma.

                                        As skin cancer goes, I've been told that's the "best" kind to have. I guess it has the least of a chance to kill you but still... I had to have the place on my shoulder cut our (very small cut). Then had to apply some cream called Aldara (Imiquimod) 5% for a while. Stuff burned like the devil! But it has been three years and so far no return.

                                        Before that, I had two places test "pre-cancerous" on my back cut out. Couldn't figure that out since I've never been a two piece kind of girl.

                                        Right now I have a place that is very reminiscent of the place on my shoulder beside my left eye. I was hoping it would heal and go away but I guess I need to call for a dr. appt.
                                        "Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are man's adorable little serial killer." -- theoatmeal.com