We have touched on this somewhat in several of our blog posts this week, but it is a big enough concern to warrant a post all its own. Fair-skinned people may be at the highest risk of skin cancer, but anyone can get skin cancer! It is important to bring this up because many non-Caucasian people assume that they have no risk of skin cancer and don’t use sun safe practices, such as putting on sunscreen and doing skin checks.
This is highly concerning because when people of color do get skin cancer, it is often not noticed & diagnosed until a more advanced stage, which makes treatment more difficult. The later diagnosis contributes to the fact that “the five-year survival rate for African-Americans and Latinos diagnosed with melanoma is lower than Caucasians” (AAD -- "Preventing and Detecting Skin Cancer in People of Color"). The AAD notes that, for example, the 5-year melanoma survival rate for African-Americans is 73%, where as this rate is 91% in Caucasians.
The incidence of melanoma & other skin cancers in darker skinned people is increasing year by year, which troubles many dermatologists and health care practitioners. Research has shown that the number of melanomas diagnosed among Hispanics has increased by almost 20% in a little over 15 years!
It is also important to note that in people of color, skin cancer is often found on areas of skin that are not overly exposed to the sun. Approximately 30-40% of melanomas in people of color are located on the bottom of the foot. Almost 8% of melanomas diagnosed in Asian-Americans are located in the mouth. In African Americans, squamous cell carcinoma frequently develops on the hip, buttocks, legs and feet. Bob Marley's fatal case of melanoma started under his toenail.
No matter what color your skin is –be it very light or very dark– check your skin often (preferably every month) for any unusual, suspicious or changing spots & lesions because most skin cancers have a cure rate of almost 100% if detected & treated early! Learn how to do a self-exam.
For More Information:
Skin Cancer Foundation: