Black people often believe the big misconception that skin cancer does not affect people of color. However, this commonly accepted myth is far from the truth.
Not only does skin cancer occur in black people, the five-year survival rate for the disease is only 69 percent for blacks compared to 93 percent for whites, according to Cancer.org.
“Squamous cell carcinomas in blacks tend to be more aggressive and are associated with a 20-40 percent risk of spreading,” read a blog post on Cancer.org. Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer.
Jacqueline Smith (pictured) is a skin cancer survivor who was profiled by Radio/Interactive One’s HelloBeautiful.com. In her exclusive interview with the website, Smith talked about her skin cancer diagnosis, which she first received at the young age of 22.
“I had this lump in my bikini line that wouldn’t go away. I went to the doctor at school and was told that it wasn’t a big deal and that it was probably an ingrown hair. One doctor told me that I just had an inflamed lymph node and that if it wasn’t bothering me then I shouldn’t bother it,” Smith told Hello Beautiful.
The soon-to-be college graduate was determined to get a second opinion. When she moved back to her parents’ home after graduating college, Smith eventually went to see an oncologist. This is when she found out she had stage-3 melanoma, the most grave form of skin cancer.
“I kept thinking, ‘I am not a fair-skinned, middle-aged woman! How is this possible? We don’t get skin cancer.’ I just couldn’t believe it. I remember being in middle school and people telling me that I didn’t need sun screen because I was darker skinned,'” Smith also said in her exclusive interview.
However, at the age of 36, Smith is cancer free after a number of treatments and operations. She is also a great advocate of skin cancer prevention efforts. Smith has even spoken before U.S. government officials in Washington D.C. to increase awareness.
“It’s important to share my story with other African-Americans so that they can understand that skin cancer is our problem too. I’ve worked with other cancer organizations and have even been to Capitol Hill to spread the word!” Smith added.
To read more of Smith’s amazing story of survival and advocacy, please click the link to the research source given for this article below.