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Five Questions About Skin Cancer

We get answers from two dermatologists about how to protect yourself

March 2011
Rory Sabbatini

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Rory Sabbatini's wide-brimmed hat stirred up more conversation than his win on Sunday. And while many reports clearly pointed out why the six-time PGA Tour winner is wearing a cowboy hat -- he was diagnosed with skin cancer last year and wants to avoid another surgery to remove more lesions -- most have falsely reported that his squamous cell carcinoma could have turned into malignant melanoma.

The New York Times published the following misleading report on March 5: "The surgeon dug one millimeter deep and another millimeter wide to remove the growth, which was almost a melanoma."

Even Sabbatini doesn't seem to understand that squamous cell carcinoma can never become melanoma: "It was squamous cell carcinoma," he explained. "So it was pretty severe. It wasn't to the melanoma stage, but it was close."

Click through the slideshow to learn more from two dermatologists about skin cancer, detection and prevention.

Ian Poulter

Can squamous cell carcinoma ever become malignant melanoma?

Dr. Michael Kaminer, a skin cancer surgeon and dermatologist at SkinCare Physicians who holds a 2 handicap: Squamous cell carcinoma does not ever become melanoma. They're two totally separate types of skin cancer and don't cross over. Their only similarities are that sun exposure and frequent sunburns can contribute to both.

Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, a San Diego-based dermatologist and skin care expert at Livestrong.com who works with many golfers: Squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma arise from two different cells. They both arise in the skin and are caused by sun damage, but otherwise they're completely separate. Squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma cannot turn into one another. We often talk about skin cancer as not serious (basal cell carcinoma) sometimes serious (squamous cell carcinoma) and potentially deadly serious (melanoma), but in truth they can all be serious or all be easily cured depending on the stage and location.

Warren Little/Getty Images
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