BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana State Police Commander Colonel Mike Edmonson is recovering from a common cancer that doctors believe develops at a very young age.
Col. Edmonson admits he was never a "sun worshiper". But during his 34 years in law enforcement, he has spent countless hours working in direct sunlight. The commander says even when he was not wearing a badge his body basked in the sun.
"Even playing sports, I wasn't good about wearing a hat. I just never liked it. I thought it messed up my hair," Edmonson said.
It was not until decades later, a few weeks ago, Col. Edmonson said he noticed something abnormal on his face.
"It actually started right here on the tip of my nose. I thought it was a whitehead and it ended up being a cyst," Edmonson said.
The colonel says his dermatologist confirmed it was Squamous Cell Carcinoma, a cancer that normally appears on areas of the skin frequently exposed to the sun.
Edmonson was referred to doctor Stephen Antrobus, a plastic surgeon who specializes in the removal of skin cancer.
"It's almost an epidemic now. As baby boomers age, we are seeing more and more and more and more of these," Antrobus said.
Doctor Antrobus used a procedure called MOH's, a tedious procedure where the cancerous cells are scraped away until none remain.
"We look at every bit. If we see roots, fingers or tumor cells we take another piece and recheck it," Antrobus said.
The colonel caught it early.
Antrobus warns, if ignored, the disease could begin to attack cells inside the body which could become serious or even fatal. The good news, he said, is it is preventable by simply adding sunscreen to your daily routine.
"Brush your teeth every day, whether you eat candy or not. Put sunscreen on, whether you're in the sun or not," Antrobus said.
Col. Edmonson says he has learned his lesson.
"The damage is done. I crossed the threshold, now I've got to be extremely careful about being in the sun," Edmonson said.