Melanoma Monday: Blacks at Risk for Skin Cancer Despite Myth

Moshup Beach at Martha’s Vineyard. (Photo: Camille King via Flikr)

 

In an article entitled, “Dark Skin Tones and Skin Cancer: What You Need to Know,” on Skincancer.org, the author writes:

“People who have dark skin tones often believe they’re not at risk for skin cancer, but that is a dangerous misconception, says dermatologist Maritza I. Perez, MD, a senior vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation.

‘Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of race,’ she says. While incidence of melanoma is higher in the Caucasian population, a July 2016 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed it is more deadly in people of color. African American patients were most likely to be diagnosed with melanoma in its later stages than any other group in the study, and they also had the worst prognosis and the lowest overall survival rate.”

According to the article, 63 percent of African-Americans in the study stated they never use sunscreen, which is alarming. People of color can still get sunburned, and develop skin cancer from UV damage, so Blacks should definitely conduct yearly self-checks and use sunscreen regularly. Music legend Bob Marley died from melanoma at age 36.

Melanoma warning signs include the following:

  • A bump, patch, sore or growth that bleeds, oozes, crusts, doesn’t heal or lasts longer than a month. This may indicate basal cell carcinoma.
  • An ulcer, scaly red patch, wart-like growth or sore that sometimes crusts or bleeds could be a sign of squamous cell carcinoma. This type of skin cancer can also develop in old scars or areas of previous physical trauma or inflammation.
  • New or existing moles that are asymmetrical, have an irregular border, more than one color, are larger than a pencil eraser or change in any way may indicate melanoma. Pay special attention to suspicious spots on the hands, soles of the feet or under the nails, which could signify ALM.
Melanoma

Melanoma.
(Photo: Bay Harbour Med Spa)

Ways to prevent skin cancer include:

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

As the summer rolls around, make sure you pay attention to any changes on your skin and see a doctor immediately if you find any of the above warning signs.

Read the article in its entirety at Skincancer.org.

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