It’s National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Don't assume that this isn't a Black issue.

Posted: 05/09/2013 11:45 AM EDT

This year nearly 77,000 people in this country will be diagnosed with melanoma, a form of skin cancer that can be deadly if not detected early. Many people believe skin cancer only happens to fair-skinned people, but here’s the truth: Melanoma strikes people of all ethnicities. It is the number one cancer in people aged 25 to 29, and the fastest growing cancer in men and the second fastest in women.

Here’s what else you should know about melanoma:

Protecting skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays significantly reduces the risk of melanoma and other types of skin cancer. Recognizing early signs of the disease can lead to a 95 percent cure rate. Though summer is approaching, you can contract skin cancer any time of year, so here are some skin-protecting tips:

—Know your risk. One bad sunburn, even in childhood, is enough to increase a person’s lifelong risk for melanoma substantially. Other risks include frequent sunbathing, indoor tanning and a family history of melanoma. If you are fair-skinned with red or blond hair and light-colored eyes, you are also at higher risk.

—Don’t assume darker skin equals immunity. One survey showed 46 percent of people believe those with darker skin cannot get skin cancer. This is frightening because although melanoma is less common in darker-skinned people, the risk of late diagnosis with advanced melanoma is higher, and survival rates are lower. The five-year melanoma survival rate for African Americans is only 77 percent; it is 91 percent for white folks. (Note: Reggae great Bob Marley died from melanoma.)

Read more about skin cancer at BlackHealthMatters.Com.

BET Health News - We go beyond the music and entertainment world to bring you important medical information and health-related tips of special relevance to Blacks in the U.S. and around the world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter. 

Get ready for the BET Experience, featuring Beyoncé, Snoop DoggR. Kelly, Erykah BaduKendrick Lamar and many more. Go here for more details and info on how to buy tickets.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Videos You May Like

From Our Partners