Blue Jays host Jamie Campbell says he's in treatment for 'pre-skin cancer' — what does that mean?

The host revealed in 2022 he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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TORONTO- Jamie Campbell at Blue Jays Central set on the 200 level concourse in centre field. (R.J.Johnston/Toronto Star) 
         (R.J. Johnston Toronto Star/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Jamie Campbell at Blue Jays Central is in 'pre-skin cancer' treatment. (R.J. Johnston Toronto Star/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Long-time Blue Jays voice Jamie Campbell revealed why he's not part of the Sportsnet World Series broadcast in a "not fun" health update.

Campbell took to X (aka Twitter) on Monday with a selfie showing discoloured and scarred skin on one half of his face.

"Treatment of 'pre-skin cancer' prevents me from being part of the [Sportsnet] World Series broadcast, for now," he wrote.

Then he offered his followers some advice, saying: "This is not fun, so please cover up, find shade, and use sunscreen."

Campbell's post was quickly met with well-wishes from followers and others in the industry.

"I wish you a speedy recovery. I myself am a skin cancer survivor and I resoundingly echo your advice," one person responded to his tweet.

"Take care of yourself. The whole country is behind you. Take the time you need. Come back strong! Canada's baseball community sends you love and strength," wrote 985Sports journalist Jeremy Filosa.

"Wishing you a fast and complete recovery, Jamie," added hockey analyst Chris Stevenson.

"Oh my goodness – thank you for sharing such an impactful photo. Take care and recover well. We love you!," another person said.

In a follow-up post, Campbell shared another photo of his face, in hopes of helping someone.

"I was told much of the damage on the left side was caused while driving. Who puts on sunscreen before driving? Not me," he wrote, adding, "Won't make that mistake again."

Last year, Campbell revealed he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia after a routine blood test in January 2021.

"I had thought long and hard about what I would do when it was time to let Sportsnet know that I was about to enter treatment, and the first thing I thought of is the fact I show up on peoples' TV screens pretty well every day from April through October, and there are going to be people out there suffering silently with a diagnosis like the one I have," Campbell told The Athletic.

"I want them to know what I'm dealing with, so if they're dealing with the same thing, they can turn on the TV and see a healthy, living, breathing me, who is living, thriving and surviving with leukemia."

What is 'pre-skin cancer treatment'?

People with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia — like Campbell — are at an increased risk for the development of second malignant neoplasms, and have a 600 per cent higher risk of the most dangerous form of melanoma.

Though Campbell hasn't shared details of his diagnosis or the treatment he's undergoing, a precancerous condition of the skin is called actinic keratosis (AK).

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, actinic keratosis involves changes to skin cells that make them more prone to developing into cancer.

"Actinic keratosis is not yet cancer. But if it isn't treated, it may develop into a type of non-melanoma skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma," the society explained.

It most often develops from exposure to the sun, and in areas most exposed (face, ears, neck, back of hands).

What are the symptoms of actinic keratosis?

Actinic keratosis may develop into squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer, if untreated. (Getty)
Actinic keratosis may develop into squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer, if untreated. (Getty)

Mayo Clinic outlined symptoms of AK usually first appear in individuals over the age of 40, and generally present as scaly spots on the skin.

Though they can vary in appearance, here are some symptoms to look out for, according to Mayo Clinic:

  • Rough, dry or scaly patch of skin

  • Flat or slightly raised patch or bump on the top layer of skin

  • A hard, wart-like surface (in some cases)

  • Color variations including pink, red or brown

  • Itching, burning, bleeding or crusting of the skin

  • New patches or bumps on sun-exposed areas of the head, neck, hands and forearms

What are the risks of precancerous skin conditions?

Both expert agencies list fair skin, light-coloured hair (blonde or red), a weakened immune system and older age as the main risk factors of developing AK.

Mayo Clinic added those who have a history of a lot of sun exposure or sunburn and tend to freckle or burn when exposed to sunlight, are also at higher risk. People who live in a sunny place and those who work outdoors may also be at a higher risk.

What does treatment look like?

Applying sunscreen on freckled skin in the sunshine. Treatment for actinic keratosis depends on the number of abnormal areas and where they are. (Getty)
Treatment for actinic keratosis depends on the number of abnormal areas and where they are. (Getty)

The Canadian Cancer society said there are several ways to treat actinic keratosis.

Most commonly, in addition to "active surveillance," this precancerous condition is treated with topical creams or gels, including:

  • 5-fluorouracil (5-FU, Efudex, Actikerall)

  • ingenol mebutate (Picato)

  • imiquimod (Aldara, Zyclara)

Other treatment options include:

  • cryosurgery (freezing abnormal cells)

  • curettage and electrodesiccation (scraping off an abnormal area and destroying abnormal tissue)

  • surgical excision with a shave biopsy (a shave excision)

  • photodynamic therapy (drugs become active when exposed to light)

How to stay safe?

Just as Campbell noted in his post: wear sunscreen.

Mayo Clinic explained "sun safety helps prevent actinic keratoses." This includes limiting time in the sun and avoiding tanning, as well as wearing a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen of at least 30 SPF.

In addition to covering up and avoiding tanning beds, the agency also advised regularly checking your skin.

Look for "the development of new skin growths or changes in existing moles, freckles, bumps and birthmarks. With the help of mirrors, check your face, neck, ears and scalp. Examine the tops and undersides of your arms and hands."

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