Why people with skin of color need to worry about skin cancer: Part 1

In light of Black History Month – and with Valentines right around the corner – I decided this would be as good a time as any for us think about loving our skin. More importantly, protecting it – even if you are of color. A common misconception I encounter as a dermatologist is that people of color don’t always think they can get skin cancer. However, I do have patients coming in for full body exams – and it is the responsibility of both the dermatologist and patient to respect that choice.

Today, I’ll be trying to bring awareness of the need for protection of colored skin to the table and in my next blog on Thursday, we’ll turn our attention to the steps you can take to protect yourself. First of all, it’s important to know that even though melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers tend to develop more in Caucasian skin, patients of darker skin types are also still at risk of developing skin cancers – which means practicing photoprotection is essential.

Henry Lim, M.D., notes that “Similar to fair skinned individuals, darker skinned individuals can also get sunburned and suffer the detrimental effects of UV exposure, which can contribute to the development of skin cancers.”

Examining “typical ” tumour sites is as important as inspecting the palms and especially, the soles. That’s usually why skin cancers and melanoma are diagnosed at more advanced stages in darker skinned patients, which only serves to highlight what I mentioned earlier: skin exams and more awareness are incredibly crucial.

Keep an eye out for our next blog on Thursday, where we’ll explain how to be vigilant and take the right preventative measures!

Source: Dermatological Times

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