To make it clear from the beginning: Having darker skin will not be what will protect us against skin cancer.
Still, according to a 2016 study, black people have lower rates of melanoma. But tend to be more prone to late diagnosis than whites, and have a 69% five-year survival rate, compared with 93% in whites (according to the American Cancer Society). With which we conclude that anyone could get skin cancer regardless of the color of her skin.
Detecting skin cancer early is very important, since in its early stages it is usually easier to treat. The downside is that for this, patients and their providers must know the warning signs.
If we have a stain that is changing its appearance, does not heal, or worries us, we should consult a specialist as soon as possible.
What common misconceptions do patients of color have about skin cancer?
Today most sunscreen marketing seems to be aimed at fair-skinned patients. And because of this, many people with darker skin assume that they are not needed unless they are prone to sunburn.
They believe that sunscreen products have generally been formulated with lighter-skinned patients in mind. Fortunately, the importance of products that suit patients with darker skin tones is being recognized, and companies are offering better options available.
Can black people get skin cancer from the sun?
The pigment in the skin actually functions as a sun protection factor (SPF). And the higher the pigment, the higher the skin’s natural SPF. With what we will have greater protection against ultraviolet radiation produced by the sun’s rays.
As a result, people with darker skin tones are less prone to skin cancer than people with lighter skin tones.
Still, the sun is not the only cause of all skin cancer types, and the skin’s natural SPF remains too low to be confident. And it could be developed by anyone regardless of the amount of pigment in their skin.
Are certain body parts at higher risk of skin cancer in black people?
In the case of melanoma, people with darker skin tones are more likely to find it on places like: the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, and under the fingernails.
Although this does not mean that any patient can suffer from skin cancer anywhere on the surface of the skin. Therefore, we must be vigilant and verify any point of concern is where it is.
Do certain ethnic groups see higher rates of certain types of skin cancer?
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is usually the most common skin cancer in black people, and like melanoma, it can occur more often in places not as exposed to the sun.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is usually related to sun overexposure and obviously occurs in areas more exposed to the sun. This in particular, occurs more frequently in individuals with increasingly lighter skin tones.
Why do some ethnic groups have higher rates of undiagnosed skin cancer?
In the case of melanoma, statistics show that patients with darker skin tones are diagnosed when the disease is very advanced and therefore have a lower survival rate.
This may be because those patients are unaware of their risk, making them less likely to seek care early on. When as we said earlier, skin cancer is often be easy to cure. Therefore, these prospective patients should be alert to early signs of skin cancer.