Unfortunately, there is a common misconception floating around the Black community regarding our beautiful sun-kissed skin and cancer.  Many Blacks are under the impression that our dark skin can’t burn or get cancer.  We think of skin cancer as a “white man’s disease.”  Well, Im here to dispel that myth.  Skin cancer is a very real disease in our community and it can be deadly if left undetected.

Education and early detection are key tools in fighting skin cancer.  The first step is going out into the community and educating the masses.  Many people just aren’t aware of the fact that our melanin-rich skin is suceptible to melanoma.  They need to be educated on ways to prevent cancer, including applying sunblock with spf of at least 15, wearing hats, or wearing clothes that protects exposed skin. 

People should also be taught to pay close attention to both existing moles and moles that have recently developed.  Remember the ABCD’s of moles.

A: Assymmetry.  The mole should be symmetrical on both sides in size, shape, and thickness.

B: Border.  The mole’s edges should be smooth all around, not jagged or poorly defined.

C: Color. The mole should be of uniform color.  Multi-colored moles of brown, tan, black, blue, etc are red flags.

D: Diameter.  Your mole should be less than 6mm in diameter.

It is especially important to take note of moles formed on the hands and feet.

If there is anything unusual about your mole, make an appointment with a dermatologist immediately.  Survival rates for minorities with melanoma aren’t very high when compared with our white counterparts, but that can easily changed.  By the time women of color get their irregular moles examined by the doctor, the cancer has already progressed to a late stage with little to no hope of being successfully treated.

Bottom line:  Help spread the truth about skin cancer in the minorty community and drill prevention into the heads of our people.  Skin cancer doesn’t have to kill; don’t be an unsuspecting victim.

Remember to keep a healthy demeanor, both inside and out.