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Marley and Melanoma

Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley was a Jamaican Reggae singer, songwriter and musician.

His life was cut short at the age of 36. In 1977 he was diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma that started under his big toenail.

The lesion on his toe was first thought to be a result of a soccer injury.  Over time the toe began to look worse and he sought a second opinion.  During that visit the lesion was biopsied and a diagnosis of melanoma was made.  There are four main types of skin melanoma:

  • Superficial Spreading
  • Nodular Melanoma
  • Lentigo Maligna
  • Acral Lentiginous

Marley had acral lentiginous melanoma. He was advised to have his toe amputated.  Due to religious beliefs he refused to have an amputation and opted for a less invasive treatment which included excision of a portion of tissue and skin grafting.  By 1980 the disease spread throughout his body.  After a series of alternative treatments, Marley finally succumbed to his disease and passed away on May 11, 1981.

The American Academy of Dermatology has designated May as skin cancer awareness month, and the first Monday in May as National Melanoma Monday.