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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert being treated for skin cancer

Posted at 10:38 AM, Apr 24, 2019

WEST JORDAN, Utah – Governor Gary Herbert announced he is being treated for skin cancer during a ceremonial bill signing in West Jordan Wednesday.

"I’m paying the price now of not understanding that when I was 10 or 12," Herbert said.

Wearing a bandage on his face during a press conference, Gov. Herbert said he rarely wore sunscreen as a child.

"Back in my day sunscreen was never even heard of. It wasn’t talked about. Suntan lotion to help you tan more is what was utilized," he said.

He said that's likely the reason he developed squamous cell carcinoma and had a growth removed from his face. Governor Herbert has had two other incidents of skin cancer which were basal cell carcinoma where he had growths removed from his head and chest.

Mark Hyde, a Ph.D. and PA-C who specializes in skin cancer at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, said these types of carcinoma are very common.

"As far as danger goes, they’re not near as dangerous as melanoma. They’re still something we want to treat and take care of but it's very unlikely it would cause an additional problem such as metastisizing or going elsewhere," Hyde said.

Even though Gov. Herbert's diagnosis is not life-threatening, Hyde says it's still concerning.

"While this won’t shorten their lives in most cases, it certainly causes a lot of pain and discomfort and problems otherwise," Hyde said.

Hyde also said Utahns are extra susceptible to skin cancer.

"We have elevation that goes against us as well as our latitude. We’re relatively close to the equator. We’re high up and the atmosphere which usually protects us from UV radiation, it's not as thick here so the higher we go, the less protection we get," Hyde said.

So what can we do? First of all, wear sunscreen and make sure to re-apply it.

"30 SPF every couple of hours of sun exposure is going to be better than getting a really high SPF and applying it once," Hyde said.

You should also try to avoid the peak hours of sunlight.

"Staying out of the sun during the lunchtime hours. Another way to think about it is when your shadow is shorter than you are, you’re getting too much exposure," Hyde said.

As for Gov. Herbert, he's not letting this diagnosis take a toll on him or his sense of humor.

"I’m feeling very good about it and I’ll have this bandage on for a couple of weeks I expect then I hopefully won’t have anything to detract from my handsome face," he said.

However, he's hoping Utahns will learn from his cautionary tale.

"Look at what’s happened to me and others and wear sunscreen when you go outside and protect yourself from the sun," Herbert said.


Original story appears below.

WEST JORDAN, Utah -- Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced he is being treated for skin cancer.

At a ceremonial bill signing in West Jordan on Wednesday for a series of education funding bills, the governor disclosed he is being treated.

The diagnosis is believed to be relatively minor. In recent weeks, the governor has been seen wearing small bandages on his face indicating a cell has been removed. FOX 13 is told he is undergoing more treatments this week. His monthly news conference with reporters was canceled.

The governor disclosed the diagnosis in front of a group of children, whom he urged to wear sunscreen.

Fox 13 News will update this story as more details emerge.