“If you get diagnosed right away, it’s a better prognosis than when the diagnosis is made after months or years,” Moossavi adds. “I’ve been talking about this with the [medical] students and residents and we always come to the same conclusion: Education is the most important thing.”
Melanoma affects over 1 million Americans, and its rates have risen significantly in the past 30 years, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Although Black people less likely to develop melanoma than non-Hispanic White people, Blacks who do develop the cancer have a much lower five-year survival rate.
What is melanoma?
The American Cancer Society (ACS) explains that cancer occurs when cells begin to grow out of control. Melanoma is a type of cancer that starts in the pigment-making cells, known as “melanocytes.” While not as common as other forms of skin cancer, it is more serious.
“Melanoma is more aggressive and more likely to spread to the lymph nodes,” according to Dr. Hugh Greenway, a dermatologic surgeon with Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center and Scripps Clinic in California. “It’ll spread to the liver, to the brain and throughout the body if not checked.”
According to the AAD, ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning beds is the cause of melanoma.