Dear Black and Brown People, We Get Skin Cancer Too!
While all types of skin cancer are less common in people of color than in white people, nonwhite ethnic groups have significantly worse outcomes. Black, LatinX, Native American, and Asian patients all tend to be diagnosed later, have more advanced disease at diagnosis, and have lower survival rates for more aggressive skin cancers like melanoma. Lower awareness by people in these ethnic groups that they are at risk for skin cancer and lower index of suspicion by health care providers for skin cancer in patients of color are likely both factors that contribute to this health care disparity. Here are 5 things for people of color to know about their risk for skin cancer:
- Melanin does provide some natural protection against UV radiation but does not prevent people of color from getting skin cancer.
- People of color (like everyone else) should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 daily. This should be applied 20-30 minutes before going outside and reapplied every 2 hours while you’re still exposed to the sun. 🚨BONUS TIP: There are more companies developing sunscreens that will not leave a white/ashy residue on the skin.
- Melanomas in people of color most often occur on non-exposed skin with less pigment. Over 60% of these skin cancers occur on palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and nail beds.
- Get to know your body. Frequent skin exams by you and your doctor are important. Seek medical care for any skin lesions that are changing- increasing in size, changing in color, bleeding, flaking, etc.
- Start your kids off with good sun habits early! One blistering sunburn in childhood can double your risk of melanoma.