SKIN CANCER DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE

An aggressive form of skin cancer silenced the living voice of Bob Marley, the legendary reggae star, who died more than three decades ago in Miami. Marley’s musical legacy endures with sad notes about skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the U.S., according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Every year more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed, the EPA reports.

No one is immune. Asians, non-white Latinos, and people of African or mixed descent can develop melanoma and other forms of skin cancer-and are doing so at increasing rates, according to national statistics.

No one is immune. Asians, non-white Latinos, and people of African or mixed descent can develop melanoma and other forms of skin cancer-and are doing so at increasing rates, according to national statistics.

Due to the myth of melanoma immunity-outdated beliefs held by some patients and even doctors-people of color may not be diagnosed with skin cancer until it’s almost too late, when the disease is more dangerous and difficult to treat. Delays in treatment can be fatal.

As was the case with Marley.

“What was dismissed as a soccer injury under his toenail turned out to be an aggressive form of melanoma that ultimately caused his death at 36,” the Skin Cancer Foundation reports.

Dorsey Goosby, M.D., a Board-certified pediatrician and chief medical officer at Homestead Hospital suggests that everyone, no matter what their skin color is, use broad spectrum sunscreens with sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher and follow other sun-safety guidelines.

“We have a sun culture. We enjoy the outdoors. But we have to be careful and understand the potential harm of UV rays,” Dr. Goosby said. “The harm is accumulative. The sun damage from last summer is added to the sun damage from this summer, which will be added to next summer’s sun exposure.”

Dr. Goosby recommends these steps:

  • Limit your exposure to the sun, especially from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., even on cloudy days.
  • Cover up with hats, sleeves, or tightly woven clothing.
  • Reapply sunscreen regularly. Use and reapply sunscreen every two hours when you are outdoors or in the water.
  • Inspect your skin for new blemishes, moles and marks. Encourage other family members to do the same.

Dr. Goosby also tells parents to pay close attention to their child’s skin. “Every child should have an annual head-to-toe skin examination,” Dr. Goosby said. “No one is immune.”

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