Jesse Tyler Ferguson's Doctor Confirms 'Modern Family' Star Is 'Totally Cured' of Cancer

by Emily Krauser 3:00 PM PST, December 10, 2015
Photo: Andrew Toth/Getty Images for The Lucille Lortel Awards

Jesse Tyler Ferguson shocked fans when he revealed a skin cancer scare, but he has since assured them that he feels fine.

The Modern Family star took to Twitter on Wednesday to give an update on his condition. "Thanks for all the well wishes! I'm feeling great & happy to be skin cancer free," he wrote. "Reminding you to get checked often by your [sp] Dermotoligist!"

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The tweet came one day after Ferguson shared a post-surgery photo on Instagram, captioned, "Thank you to Dr. Bennett & his entire team for taking the cancer out of my face. Good luck hiding the stitches tomorrow."

ET spoke with Ferguson's doctor, Richard G. Bennett, a Clinical Professor of Medicine (Dermatology) at UCLA and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at USC, on Wednesday, and he confirmed that the 40-year-old actor no longer has cancer.

"He's doing well -- totally cured," Bennett told ET. "It's not anything I would call terribly serious."

While respecting Ferguson's privacy and wish to not have details of the cancer or procedure revealed, Bennett explained that the Emmy nominee has many of the physical characteristics of those most prone to skin cancer.

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There are four types of skin cancers -- basil cell, squamous cell, melanoma and "other," which are the rare and unusual kinds -- with basil cell being the most prevalent, but very treatable. Bennett said these most typically occur in people with fair complexion, light-colored eyes and red or blonde hair -- much like Ferguson. There are environmental causes for some skin cancers, but a genetic predisposition combined with certain levels of sun exposure over one's lifetime is the frequent culprit.

There are different ways to remove skin cancers, including scraping for some smaller incidences, but one of the most common procedures is called Mohs surgery.Caitlyn Jenner, Jerry Brown, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carterall underwent the procedures for their respective canceroccurrences.

Developed in the 1930s, the process has the highest cure rate for skin cancers, with an over 99 percent success rate for new skin cancers and 95 percent for recurring ones. Bennett explains that Mohs surgery works by taking "the minimal amount you need to cure somebody."

"We have our own laboratory, and the tissues are very carefully examined to make sure that the edge of the tissue -- both going around and in-depth -- are clear of the cancer," he says of the surgery, which is usually finished in its entirety within a day. "If it's not clear, then we know precisely where to go back and take more tissue in patients. The advantage of the technique is that you get a higher cure rate and minimize how much normal tissue comes off, but the disadvantage is it's a more prolonged procedure."

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While we don't know specifically which procedure Ferguson had, per his request, the stitches he mentioned in his Instagram post are just part of any typical removal process.

"The face is always a very cosmetically sensitive area, so when people get skin cancers, they want to ensure that it's cured, but at the same time, take off as little tissue as possible," Bennett explains.

Ferguson did the smart thing by visiting a dermatologist -- and for suggesting that everyone regularly visit theirs. While making yearly appointments is important, Bennett notes that there are some signs to look for when self-examining your skin. He says basil cell and squamous cell cancers usually look like little sores that come up and don't heal. They may bleed and occasionally even itch. Melanoma typically appears in the form of a previous mole that turns darker or a new mole that's evolved and changed, either enlarging or discoloring.

The most important thing? Stay out of the sun! While everyone should be diligent about wearing sunscreen and limiting sun exposure, those with fair-skinned complexions need to be especially cautious. "They should do whatever is necessary not to burn. If they're going to be out for any length of time, they need to cover up -- wear a hat, clothing and sunscreen," Bennett says.

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How you apply sunscreen is important as well. A broad-spectrum, water-resistant SPF over 30 or higher is recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology, and it needs to be applied frequently, not just once if you'll be out in the sun all day. "Some people abuse sunscreens -- they'll put it on and stay out longer, but then they end up getting a higher dose of sunlight. It's almost like a silencer on a gun," Bennett says.

"The main thing that sunscreens have done is really heighten the awareness of burning, which is the main cause of skin cancer," he adds. "It's a very critical thing -- don't burn in the sun."

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