Skin cancer doesn't discriminate. Anyone, whether you're a health advocate, public figure, sports star or celebrity, is at risk of developing skin cancers like melanoma.
International celebrities like Ewan McGregor, Khloe Kardashian, Melanie Griffith, Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen, Diane Keaton, John McCain, Bob Marley, Donal Logue and Caitlyn Jenner have all experienced skin cancer in one of its forms. However, Australia has the highest yearly number of skin cancer diagnoses in the world, comprising 80% of new cancer cases in the country. Our homegrown stars are just as prone to developing cancerous lesions as any of us.
Before your condition requires chemotherapy or radiation therapy, here's a list of celebs who may have had similar stories and show that early detection and a strong community support system is the best form of treatment.
Hugh Jackman is a household Hollywood name, but few may know that the Aussie actor is a bit of an expert on skin cancer, having a history of personal experience. The 54-year-old's cancer journey began in 2013 with his first diagnosis. He has since had at least six procedures to remove basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most recent being in April this year.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common non-melanoma skin cancer and the least dangerous. BCC is less likely to spread, but more likely to occur in areas of the skin that are overexposed to the sun, such as the face, arms and shoulders. Early detection is essential, however, because basal cell carcinomas can cause surrounding tissue to deteriorate.
Jackman posted a video on Instagram to emphasise the importance of sunblock during summer months and to avoid tanning and excessive sun exposure to his followers. The Wolverine star explained that skin cancer symptoms can take a while to show up, in his case, twenty-five years.
"Please wear sunscreen, it is just not worth it, no matter how much you want a tan. Trust me!" he said.
As one of Australia's current Olympic swimming heroes, Cate Campbell is used to the light shining on her. However, her fair complexion and outdoor lifestyle did not make her immune to the harmful UV rays of our sun.
Campbell was diagnosed with Stage I melanoma in 2018. A mole on her arm that she had all her life turned out to be cancerous and was removed. Her shock of potentially competing as a Paralympian was subdued by the lucky early detection. She was only 26 years old.
It was only after a conversation with a friend, who had a similar experience with skin cancer, that Campbell was motivated to book her overdue skin check.
The Olympic Gold medallist and World Record holder is now a spokesperson for melanoma and actively uses her social media platforms to urge young Australians to regularly get their skin checked.
Melanoma kills an Australian every five hours and is the most common cancer affecting people aged 15 to 39.
The richest woman in Australia delivered potentially lifesaving advice to the country during her acceptance speech for the 2023 Western Australian of the Year. The billionaire mining magnate and businesswoman was awarded for her outstanding contribution to the nation's economy and took to the stage a few hours after she had sat for surgery.
Reinhart, 69 years old, was diagnosed with facial melanoma and accessorised on the night with a large white fan to cover bruising on the right side of her face.
“I should probably remind you all, please do the suncream, do the hats and do the check-ups, please, which I didn’t do,” she said.
Melanoma can affect anyone at any age, anywhere on the body.
For over three decades, Peter Overton has been a trustworthy face for Australians as a journalist and newsreader on the Nine Network. As a reporter for 60 Minutes for over 10 years, he's covered many world events, but in November 2020, Overton became the news when he was first diagnosed with melanoma.
Overton was rushed into emergency surgery, sharing a photo on Twitter of the bandages wrapped around his right temple—where the melanoma was located. Since then, he's needed three more operations, as more melanoma was discovered on his back.
The 57-year-old veteran television journalist is in a high-risk group of individuals vulnerable to developing skin cancer. Overton shared his personal story when he returned on air, warning Australians to stay vigilant about sun safety, particularly those with fair skin, a high mole count, a childhood spent in the Aussie sun, and now a history with melanoma.
Overton stresses that regular skin checks and sun protection is essential. His initial social media announcement ended with a strong message, "For those thinking about getting their skin checked. Do it. Now."
Australian television presenter, magazine editor and former model Deborah Hutton had her face flashed before the nation in what she claims was "the most meaningful" role of her career when she underwent facial surgery for basal cell carcinoma in 2020.
The 60-year-old media personality had previous brushes with skin cancer, but this one frightened her the most. She now has skin checks every three to four months. People with a history of skin cancer are most at risk of recurrence.
Hutton's cancer was removed from the right side of her nose, down her mouth to the chin. She claims that no bump, spot or any other sign of cancer was visible to the eye prior to her skin cancer scare. The face, head and neck are the most vulnerable areas for skin cancer, so Hutton has launched her own brand of UPF50+ hats, called Canopy Bay.
Hutton is now a strong advocate for early detection awareness and regular comprehensive skin checks by professionals. She has also expressed her strong disdain for beauty standards promoting tanning, as well as the importance of SPF products.
Sam Short is another Australian swimmer who has dealt with skin cancer, being diagnosed with melanoma in his lower back five weeks before he competed at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The 18-year-old underwent surgery when his competition at the Budapest World Championships finished. Twenty stitches later, Short took home silver and gold in England. In Fukuoka's 2023 World Aquatics Championships, Short recently won gold, silver and bronze for the Men's 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle.
Short grew up on the beach, participating in Queensland's Surf Life Saving club before his attention turned poolside. People with fair complexions like Short are at higher risk of developing cancerous growths. He now turns to Instagram, urging teens to get their spots and moles checked by skin care professionals and promoting sun safety.
The dangers of sunbathing without adequate sun protection were reiterated to Australian audiences by television news and radio presenter Deborah Knight when she shared her basal cell carcinoma scare with her social media followers this year.
The confronting photo she posted features bright skin and age spots frozen off Knight's chest and face, which she explained is what occurs during her annual skin checks. The photo was a retaliation, she states, to the hypocrisy of misinformation spread online, where sunbathing and being sunburnt is seen as a "badge of honour".
The 50-year-old journalist aimed to alert younger generations to the importance of wearing a hat and sunscreen, especially if they're fair-skinned.
Book your skin check today!
If there's one takeaway from the experiences these Aussie celebs have had, it is that developing healthy sun habits is vital to lowering your risk of developing skin cancer. Keeping a keen eye on any changes to your spots, freckles and moles, particularly in obscure locations like around the lips and toenails, is the first part of skin cancer awareness. Lathering up on sunblock is something professionals and celebrities both emphasise to their fans.
Getting regular skin checks will be helpful for early diagnosis of skin cancers, like melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which is necessary for everyone since we are all at risk from Australia's high UV levels.
Our friendly and experienced team at SunDoctors offer thorough skin checks so you can enjoy summer without worries or questions. Call today to ask anything and receive quality skin cancer information you can trust.