Skin Cancer Prevention for People of Color

It’s commonly believed that African-Americans and other darker skinned individuals don’t get skin cancer and shouldn’t worry about protecting themselves from the sun. This myth couldn’t be further from the truth. “While melanin, the pigment that gives skin its deeper color does guard darker skin from the full onslaught of the sun, it does not provide total protection from UV rays,” states Dr. Adam Mamelak, board certified Dermatologist at skin cancer expert at Sanova Dermatology. Darker skin can still tan, burn and develop cancer.

“While skin cancer is not as prevalent among people of color, it is often more aggressive and more deadly when it strikes,” explains Dr. Mamelak. In fact, African-Americans are much more at risk of developing fast-moving acral lentiginous melanoma – the cancer that killed reggae legend Bob Marley – than their Caucasian peers.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, different ethnic groups are prone to different types of cancer. For example, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is more common in Hispanic and eastern Asian cultures, while black people and people from India are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

Because skin cancer can strike no matter what your race, ethnicity or skin tone, prevention is key for everyone.

Wear Sunscreen Every Day

A Broad Spectrum (UVA & UVB protection) sunscreen is vital for everyone every day — cloudy days and winter months are no exception. A shot sized glass of sunscreen should cover your entire body.

Pay Attention to Changes in Your Skin

The American Cancer Society says monthly skin self-exams are vital. Over time, regular checks can help you become familiar with moles and blemishes, making it easier to identify changes. “Always remember to examine your palms, nails and the soles of your feet,” suggests Dr. Mamelak.

Visit the Dermatologist Yearly

“Just like your annual primary care check-up, it is also recommended that everyone undergo a complete skin exam and mole check with their dermatologist once a year,” urges Dr. Mamelak. With regular visits, a dermatologist can help identify and promptly treat abnormal moles and skin lesions. That’s good news, because statistics show that skin cancer caught early is treatable and curable.

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Contact us today to schedule your annual skin exam with our dermatologists.

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