Woman 'Shocked' to Develop Skin Cancer Despite Sunscreen Vigilance

"As it grew and grew I thought, 'this isn't normal,'" Annie Tomlin said.

ByABC News
May 9, 2016, 8:05 AM

— -- Annie Tomlin is an expert beauty editor who is known for telling her millions of readers about the importance of sunscreen, so when a red patch appeared on her hairline and wouldn't go away, she knew something wasn't right.

"As it grew and grew I thought, 'this isn't normal,'" she said.

Two different dermatologists told Tomlin –- the beauty director at Self Magazine –- that the patch was nothing, but when Tomlin ran into Dr. Ellen Marmur at an event, the doctor had a different opinion.

"Instantly I said 'No, no, no. We have to test that,'" Marmur, a Manhattan dermatologist, told ABC News.

A biopsy revealed that Tomlin had basal cell carcinoma. It's the most common kind of skin cancer.

Tomlin said she was "shocked" by the diagnosis in November.

"I'm religious about sun protection. I wore it every day as a kid," she said.

Doctors say skin cancer is becoming increasingly common in young people and those with darker skin tones.

An estimated 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers -– the most common types of cancer -– are diagnosed each year, according to the American Cancer Society. The overwhelming majority of the cases are basal cell cancers, according to the organization.

Basal cell carcinoma is highly curable, but early detection is key.

"These things become disfiguring and they can spread throughout your body. People die every hour from skin cancer," Marmur said.

Doctors say people should be vigilant about checking their entire body regularly. It's something that Tomlin is reminded of every time she looks in the mirror.

"I actually like having the faintest of scars because it's a reminder in life that this happened and I just want to be as safe as I can when I go in the sun," Tomlin said.

Tomlin had the patch removed in an outpatient surgical procedure and was declared cancer-free. She writes about her experiences in this month's issue of Self.