Dangers of Skin Cancer in Skin of Color
It’s common knowledge that the darker one’s skin, the less chance one has for skin cancer. But, prevalence is not the whole story. While it is indeed true that those with more melanin have greater protection from the sun’s rays, melanoma is actually more fatal for people of color. Specifically, it affects African-Americans with a lower survival rate.
Sunscreen can save lives
One contributor is the fact that people of color are less likely to use sunscreen. That’s why good sun protection habits are necessary for everybody. One must always use sunscreen when spending longer than 15 minutes outdoors. Covering the body well with clothing and donning sunglasses can also help keep one’s risk of skin cancer low.
Early detection is key to prevention
Melanomas of people of color are often not detected until a later, more deadly stage. Part of this is because of the misconception that they are immune to the effects of sun damage.
Another aspect is that people with darker skin are particularly susceptible to a rarer form of skin cancer called acral lentiginous melanoma, or ALM. This cancer occurs on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet and is more deadly than the more common melanomas that occur as a result of UV rays.
Signs of melanoma development
In order to detect melanoma early on, it’s important to periodically inspect one’s skin for suspicious lesions, bumps or other anomalies. Pay attention to growths or rashes that bleed or don’t heal. Spots that are larger than a pencil eraser, have asymmetrical borders, or are composed of multiple colors should also be noted. If these last longer than a month, they should be treated with suspicion and brought to the attention of your dermatologist.
Melanoma is one of the most avoidable forms of cancer, and no one is immune to its development. No matter what one’s skin color, the risk can always be reduced through judiciously adhering to good sun protection habits. Click here to learn about the available skin cancer treatments available at Calabasas Dermatology Center.