Why Rachel Maddow Is Telling Viewers To Get This Health Screening

Fans of "The Rachel Maddow Show" might not have thought that anything was amiss when Maddow chose to take some time away from her show last week, but that soon turned into concern, after the host decided to kick off her return by explaining what had happened.

Maddow said that she and her partner Susan Mikula decided to attend a minor league baseball game, when Mikula pointed out that a mole on Maddow's neck had changed. Maddow admits she had no clue that the mole was there to begin with, and after some prodding, decided to consult with her dermatologist, and it was then that she discovered it was skin cancer (via YouTube). 

But the plain-speaking host was able to follow the shocking announcement with a bit of good news — that doctors had operated on her and that she emerged cancer-free. "Skin cancer accounts for the vast majority of cancers diagnosed in the United States," Maddow said, adding that "even the skin cancers that are the deadliest skin cancers in this country — those too — are way more treatable than they used to be on one condition: That you get them early," Maddow tells her viewers (via CNN).

Maddow's call to get checked has picked up steam

Maddow's call for viewers and fans to get themselves checked spread over social media, where her message had taken root and had been amplified. NBC news personality John Morales tweeted: "While she hasn't specifically said it, the skin cancer @maddow is describing was removed from her on Friday sounds very much like it's in-situ melanoma. Get checked, she implores. I agree." Another Maddow fan tweeted back: "@maddow 16 years ago my mom saw a black crusty, pencil eraser size mole on my upper left arm. Eagle eye! The biopsy report read Malignant Melanoma. [Doctor] said '3 or 4 months was the difference between a clean getaway and metastasis. Thank you, Rachel ... you speak, millions listen."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backs up Maddow's assertion that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the country, and that any changes to the look of your skin could be an early warning sign that something is amiss. These changes include — as in Maddow's case — changes to a mole, a skin problem that doesn't heal, or a growth. And because, as the outspoken TV host points out, not all skin cancers look the same, it's always best to see your doctor to make sure everything checks out.