Why African-Americans should not ignore skin cancer

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Of all the cancers among African-Americans, only one to two percent are skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Even so, getting diagnosed at an early stage is a challenge.

African-Americans need to protect themselves from melanomas that could be fatal. For example, Reggae legend Bob Marley died of malignant melanoma located under the nail of one of his toes. The Huffington Post has the story:

It’s true that skin cancer in African Americans isn’t nearly as common as it is in other ethnicities. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, it comprises just one to two percent of all cancers among blacks. But with less than half of melanomas in African Americans diagnosed at an early stage (compared to 74 percent in Hispanics and 84 percent in Caucasians) and survival rates hovering around 77 percent (versus 91 percent for Caucasians), doctors caution that it’s not a disease that should be ignored.

In one of the most notable cases of skin cancer in the black community, reggae legend Bob Marley discovered a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of one of his toes, an experience documented in the Kevin Macdonald film “Marley,” released last month. The cancer would ultimately spread to Marley’s lungs and brain, causing his death nearly 31 years ago on May 11, 1981.

“I’ve long used [Bob Marley] in my conversations with patients,” says board certified dermatologist Brooke Jackson, founder and medical director of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago. She added that even doctors tend to minimize the risk that skin cancer poses to people with dark skin.

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