True or false: Singer Bob Marley died of skin cancer?
“Bob Marley died of a melanoma on his foot, and he had a darker skin type,” says Dr. Alison Bruce, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist. “So it’s important to recognize that even people with dark skin or black skin are at risk of skin cancer.”
Dr. Bruce says that’s why everyone should get a baseline skin check in their early 20s. It’s especially important if you’ve suffered skin damage as a kid.
“Particularly if you’ve had blistering sunburns during your youth or if you’ve used tanning beds,” Dr. Bruce explains. “That’s another significant risk factor for developing skin cancers and melanoma.”
Dermatologists use skin checks to identify moles that might put you at risk. In particular, they look for asymmetric moles, ones with jagged borders, multicolored moles, and any that are bigger than 6 millimeters.
“Generally, moles should not be about much bigger than 6 millimeters in size, which is about the size of a pencil eraser,” adds Dr. Bruce.
In between skin checks, dermatologists will ask you to watch for changes in what’s been identified.
“Your moles should be pretty stable and static throughout your life,” says Dr. Bruce. “And if you notice a change in a mole, that’s something that would bring you in for a skin check.”