We Are Sunshine

‘Eric Dane Does Not Have Cancer’

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Agent’s proclamation puts Big Dermatology’s misclassifications of pre-cancers as “malignant” front and center

The story of TV star Eric Dane’s “fight against cancer” has blown up in the face of the Hollywood magazine that last week over-hyped the removal of a likely benign skin lesion from Dane’s lip.

Hollywood tabloid OK magazine’s main cover story last week, titled “My Fight Against Cancer” with a full-page cover photo of Gray’s Anatomy’s Dane, reported that the actor was “traumatized” after reacting to a cream prescribed by a dermatologist after the removal of the lesion on his lip. Dane told OK he lost 10 pounds because it was too painful to eat after the lesion was burned off.

2008-02-18-retraction-tanningnews-copy.jpgThe story gave the impression that Dane was fighting a deadly cancer.

After the story broke, reported that Dane told OK magazine that doctors burned off the sore with liquid nitrogen and then followed up by prescribing a cream — a typical course of action for non-melanoma skin cancer or benign lesions called actinic karatoses, but not for malignant lesions. These lesions seldom if ever metastasize, but are more likely to spread if they occur on a mucous membrane or on the lips, which is rare.

Malignant skin lesions generally are surgically removed by most dermatologists. Further, a lip lesion is not tanning-related.

Now the actor and his agent have told US Weekly that they were “mortified” by OK’s sensationalism of the story. “Eric Dane does not have cancer,” his agent told Us Weekly in its latest issue. “His story certainly does not compare with those actually suffering from the disease.”

Interestingly, Us Weekly’s whistle blowing of the OK magazine story puts Big Dermatology on center stage. For years, Big Dermatology, in its statements about skin cancer, has blurred the line between discussion of melanoma — which can be an aggressive skin cancer, but which is completely curable if caught early – and non-melanoma lesions, which almost never metastasize and very rarely are aggressive.
Melanoma skin cancer is more common in people who work indoors than those who work outdoors and appears most often on parts of the body that don’t receive regular sun exposure — signs that the cancer does not have a direct relationship with UV light.

“OK magazine’s coverage of Dane’s lesion was most likely encouraged by Big Dermatology’s consistent blurring of the lines between melanoma, which Dane did not have, and non-melanoma lesions, which are almost always curable,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said.