PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Fans know the words to Bob Marley’s songs but many don’t know a rare form of skin cancer is what killed the reggae music superstar.

What Marley initially thought was a foot injury was actually a rare form of skin cancer that typically affects persons of color.

FILE – In this July 4, 1980 file photo, Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley performs at a reggae festival concert in Paris. (AP Photo/File)

“A lot of times, we find acral lentiginous melanoma, which are on the hands and feet and it’s in places where most of us don’t look,” said second-generation dermatologist Dr. Annyce Treherne, who works in Hampton.

The disease can even form under nail beds.

“Unfortunately the stage is pretty advanced on it too because it spreads pretty quickly,” said Treherne.

That’s why doctors want you to take a look before it’s too late. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

(Photo courtesy: Dr. Annyce Treherne)

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
More than two people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour. Having five or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma. When detected early, the five-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%.

Treherne says that’s why it’s important for persons of all colors to have full skin exams once a year.

Regina Mobley: “What are some of the telltale signs that what a person thinks is a mole is not a mole?”

Dr. Annyce Treherne: “[Spots that are] growing rapidly, large in size, variation in color, as well as the border and looks irregular. Any time you see multiple colorations or multiple colors in a mole, you want to be suspicious. If it bleeds or becomes painful, you want to have that evaluated as well.”

Treherne says an annual full skin exam should be conducted by a dermatologist who can quickly diagnose skin cancer and develop a treatment plan.

Doctors also recommend the use of broad-spectrum sunscreen products with a minimum sun protection factor of 30 spf.