Non-White = No Skin Cancer?If Im
darker-skinned, I dont
need to worry about skin cancer, right?
This is a misconception that is both very common and extremely dangerous.
Caucasians are still at the top of the list for melanoma (20.8% per 100,000 people) versus 4.3% of reported cases for Hispanics. Overall, of reported melanoma cases, 70% occur in Caucasian patients, compared with 29% in Hispanic patients of any race, and 2% in non-Hispanic patients of African ethnicity. But late-stage disease is far more common among Hispanics (26%) and non-Hispanic blacks (52%) than among non-Hispanic whites (16%). This means that while skin cancer occurs less among darker-skinned people:
- Skin cancer does occur in darker skins, and
- It tends to be diagnosed later when the disease is deadlier.
The delayed diagnosis in non-Caucasian patients may be due partly to a lack of melanoma prevention and awareness efforts: the misconception that skin cancer only affects light-skinned people may result in darker-skinned people being more lax about sunscreen use and sun avoidance.This lack of awareness may also result in darker-skinned people not recognizing signs of possible skin cancer (e.g. suspicious moles or pigmentations
dismissed as bruises, etc.).
As with most cancers, catching melanoma earlier increases the chances of survival through removal and better prevention. A late diagnosis may make treatment impossible.
So dark or light, regardless of your ethnicity, cover up, avoid the sun, and see a dermatologist immediately if you notice unusual moles, growths, or pigmentations.
Click here for more on sun and light protection.