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Melanoma Myths: How Skin Cancer Affects African Americans

It's a myth that African Americans and other people of color can't get skin cancer. The truth is that skin cancers, including melanoma, affect Black and Hispanic people at a disproportionately deadly rate when compared to white people. So if you see something suspicious like a new, unusual growth or a change in an existing mole anywhere on your body, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or dermatologist right away.


Here are some key facts:

  • An average five-year melanoma survival rate is only 67 percent in Black people versus 92 percent in white people.
  • Late-stage melanoma diagnoses are more common in Hispanic and Black patients than in non-Hispanic white patients.
  • When skin cancer is found in Black and Hispanic people, they tend to be diagnosed at a later stage and, as a result, have a worse prognosis.

MedStar Health shares the following information to debunk common misconceptions around skin cancer and melanoma: 
 
MYTH: SKIN CANCER ONLY AFFECTS FAIR SKIN
This is the most dangerous myth out there. Skin cancer affects people of all races and skin tones, so it is important for everyone to get their skin and moles checked regularly. 
 
MYTH: KEEP AN EYE ON MOLES AND GET THEM CHECKED AT YOUR ANNUAL PHYSICAL
Melanoma can become life threatening in as little as six weeks. If left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body. Sadly, many people wait too long to receive treatment - and the outcome can be deadly. 
 
MYTH: CHECK MOLES ON SKIN EXPOSED TO SUN
Skin cancer can be found on the soles of the feet, the toenail and fingernail beds. As mentioned above, if left undetected these can be life threatening. 


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