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‘Ninja,’ Twitch’s biggest streamer, diagnosed with skin cancer

Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

American gamer and Twitch superstar Tyler “Ninja” Blevins revealed he was diagnosed with melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

The 32-year-old, who boasts 19 million Twitch followers, shared his diagnosis in a post on X on Tuesday. “I’m still in a bit of shock but want to keep you all updated,” he said in the post.

His dermatologist determined Blevins had melanoma after removing a mole on the bottom of his foot during a routine skin check.

“They are optimistic that we caught it in the early stages,” Blevins wrote in the post.

He added that doctors also biopsied a second dark spot near the initial mole and removed a large area around the melanoma to determine whether they had successfully gotten all the cancerous tissue.

“I’m grateful to have hope in finding this early, but please take this as a PSA to get skin checkups,” Blevins said in the post.

“I wanted to use my platform to shine light on the importance of routine skin checkups,” Blevins and his wife, Jessica Blevins, said in a statement to CNN. “We are feeling extremely optimistic and will keep everyone posted as we chat more with our doctors.”

Blevins’ post follows a recent spate of prominent cancer diagnoses in people younger than 50, a concerning trend that is emerging globally.

No one knows exactly what is driving the trend, but researchers hypothesize that changes in the types of risk factors people are exposed to increases the risk for cancer at a younger age. Smoking, alcohol consumption, air pollution, obesity, a lack of physical activity and a diet with few fruits and vegetables are key risk factors for cancer, according to the World Health Organization.

What is melanoma?

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States; 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Blevins was diagnosed with melanoma, which is a rare type of skin cancer — only about 1% of skin cancer cases — but accounts for a large majority of skin cancer deaths. Melanoma begins in the skin but has a tendency to spread to other parts of the body, which is why it leads to more deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The average age of melanoma diagnosis is 66, but it is not uncommon among young adults. In fact, it is one of the most common cancers in young adults, especially young women, according to the American Cancer Society.

Risk factors for melanoma include having lighter skin color, being exposed to UV light, having many moles, having a family history of melanoma and having a personal history of melanoma or other skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.

How to prevent skin cancer

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people use sun protection, avoid direct sunlight midday and avoid tanning beds to prevent skin cancer.

“Whether you’re exposed to the sun’s UV rays or visit an indoor tanning salon, every time you tan, your skin is damaged,” the American Academy of Dermatology says on its website. “As this damage builds, you speed up the aging of your skin and increase your risk for all types of skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.”

The group also advises people to perform regular skin self-exams and to go see a dermatologist if they notice any new, suspicious spots on their skin.

The US Preventive Services Task Force does not currently recommend routine skin cancer screening for adolescents and adults without any symptoms so insurance plans may not cover visits specifically for that purpose. However, if people do have suspicious skin spots or any other symptoms concerning for skin cancer, they should talk to their primary care doctor or dermatologist.

How to perform a skin self-exam

An important part of screening for skin cancer is to document moles and other skin spots and to notice changes, the association says.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a full-length mirror to look at the front, back and side of the body. Then look more closely at the underarms, forearms, palms, legs, between the toes and at the soles of the feet. A hand mirror can be used to check the back of the neck, the scalp, the back and buttocks.

The acronym of ABCDE can be used to look for signs of melanoma: A for asymmetry, B for irregular border, C for varying color, D for diameter, E for evolving. If any of your moles or pigment spots exhibit these characteristics, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you consult your dermatologist.

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