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Malignant Melanoma | Check those little brown spots

Bob Marley said, Money can't buy life. He was referring to his diagnosis of malignant melanoma, that ended his life at 36 years of age. This article discusses malignant melanoma and the need to 'check those little brown spots.

Money can't buy life, said Bob Marley.

Check those little brown spots - it might just save your life.

Bob Marley was one of the greats. An innovator and artist, Bob died in 1981 from malignant melanoma.  The diagnosis of acralDr. Oster - check those brown spots lentiginous melanoma came in 1977 from a biopsy of Bob's great toe nail. Recommended treatment was amputation of the toe, which he refused. While on tour in the spring of '81, Bob's condition became much worse, forcing him to stop his tour and be hospitalized in Miami. He died on May 11, 1981 in Miami as a result of metastasis of malignant melanoma to his brain and lungs.

There are four basic types of malignant melanoma. The type that effected Bob is called acral lentiginous melanoma, a type of melanoma found on the palms, soles of the foot, finger nails and toe nails. The symptoms of acral lentiginous melanoma include:

  • Variable pigmentation with red, blue-grey and black as the predominant colors.
  • Ulceration or bleeding of the skin.
  • Smooth surface at first that becomes rough or warty over time.
  • Asymptomatic at first but progresses to a chronic burning or itching.

Had Bob treated his cancer from the start, we'd still be hearing new Marley songs today, but he didn't. Bob's life ended at 36 years of age. His last words to his son Ziggy were "money can't buy life."

Brown spots on the feet? Dark stripes in the nails? Have those brown spots screened by your podiatrist or dermatologist. Money really can buy life if you act prudently and take charge of your health.

- Jeff

Dr. Jeffrey Oster
Jeffrey A. Oster, DPM

Medical Advisor

Updated 4/22/2021

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