MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The first Monday in May is known as “Melanoma Monday,” a day to raise awareness about the most serious form of skin cancer. Melanoma accounts for only about 1% of skin cancers but causes the majority of skin cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.
Yvonne Basil was diagnosed with melanoma on her pinky toe five years ago. She was completely surprised.READ MORE: Miami Dolphins Food Relief Program Helps Small Businesses Reach Those In Need
CBS Correspondent Elise Preston asks Basil, “Because you’re Black, was that kinda the root of some of your shock?”
Basil said, “Yes. Well, funny you should say that, because that went through my mind thinking, ‘my people don’t get melanoma.'”
It’s a common misconception, but people of all skin tones get skin cancer, with melanoma being one of the deadliest forms.
Dr. Seemal Desai with the American Academy of Dermatology says performing self-exams is important.
“Look for spots on your skin,” he explains. “Maybe they look dark, they’re new, something has changed. See a board-certified dermatologist as immediately as possible so that we can potentially help diagnose and treat that skin cancer at an earlier stage.”READ MORE: BSO Needs Help In Solving Teen's Murder On Mother's Day
Rates of melanoma have been rising over the last several decades. Research shows when skin cancer develops in people of color, it’s often diagnosed at a later stage.
“We know that the outcome can actually be more impactful in terms of long-term morbidity and mortality,” Dr. Desai says.
Experts say everyone is at risk for skin cancer regardless of age, gender, or race. It’s estimated one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Most cases of melanoma are attributable to UV exposure, which is why prevention is critical. Use a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours and stay in the shade midday when the sun is strongest.
Doctors had to remove Basil’s toe.
“As African-Americans, you know, sometimes we have that fear of, you know, saying ‘oh, no if I go to the doctor, I’m gonna find out something’s gonna be bad,'” says Basil. “This is serious.”MORE NEWS: Stimulus Check Update: Will You Get A Fourth Relief Payment?
She remains cancer-free and protects herself outdoors as best she can.