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Skin Cancer On Black Skin

Can Other People Of Color Get Skin Cancer

Skin Lesions and Cancers: When is a Spot More than a Spot?

Its possible for other People of Color to develop skin cancer as well. Its associated with the same types of risks as in Black people.

Compared with white people, the rate of skin cancer in other People of Color is lower. However, its higher than in Black people. For example, according to data from the CDC, in 2018 there were:

  • 5 melanoma cases per 100,000 Native American or Alaska Native people
  • 4 melanoma cases per 100,000 Latino people
  • 1 melanoma cases per 100,000 Asian and Pacific Islander people

There are several types of skin cancer. Its possible that some types may be more common in certain People of Color than in others.

Tools That Can Help You Find Melanoma On Your Skin

To help you find melanoma early, the American Academy of Dermatology developed the following:

Melanoma can look different on a childs skin. Taking this short quiz can help you hone your skills at finding childhood melanoma.

ImagesImages 1,3,4,5,6,7,8,10: Images used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

Image 2: Developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

Image 9: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

ReferencesBarnhill RL, Mihm MC, et al. Malignant melanoma. In: Nouri K, et al. Skin Cancer. McGraw Hill Medical, China, 2008: 140-167.

Gloster HM Jr, Neal K. Skin cancer in skin of color. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006 55:741-60.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN guidelines for patients: Melanoma. 2018. Last accessed February 12, 2019.

Symptoms And Early Signs

It can be difficult to diagnose the type of melanoma based on symptoms alone.

On Black people, melanoma may be less noticeable because darker skin may camouflage darker growths. Skin cancer can begin as a new growth, or can occur as changes in an existing mole or freckle.

Regardless of the type of melanoma a person has, the ABCDE

may use a dermatoscope to look at suspicious growths. This tool allows the doctor to more closely examine the growth.

If the growth looks cancerous, a doctor may perform a biopsy. This involves shaving off a piece of the growth, then sending it to the lab to test for cancer. In some cases, a doctor may completely remove the growth to send to the lab. The doctor does this after numbing the affected area with an injection.

A doctor may also perform blood tests to check for signs of cancer.

If the biopsy shows that there is cancer, a doctor may order additional tests, such as a chest X-ray, to see whether the cancer has spread.

Also Check: What Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Situ Mean

Get Vitamin D Through Food Or Supplements

Vitamin D deficiency is an issue among everyone, but in people with dark skin, melanin absorbs the UV rays that activate vitamin D production in the skin, contributing to and worsening vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is important as it has protective effects against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers, Queen says, but the preferred method of vitamin D intake is through oral supplementation. It is just as effective and significantly safer than obtaining vitamin D through cutaneous absorption.

What Is The Treatment For Melanoma

The Skin Check That

Confirmed melanoma usually undergoes a second surgical procedure known as wide local excision. The clinical margins of this excision are dependent on the size and thickness of the melanoma . The Recommended New Zealand margins for excision of melanoma are as follows:

  • Melanoma in situ: 510 mm
  • Melanoma < 1 mm: 10 mm
  • Melanoma 12 mm: 1020 mm
  • Melanoma > 2 mm: 20 mm.

It is also important to determine the extent or stage of the melanoma and whether it has spread from the site of origin. The American Joint Committee on Cancer cutaneous melanoma staging guidelines are the commonly used staging criteria. The AJCC staging criteria for cutaneous melanoma are as follows :

  • Stage 0: in situ melanoma
  • Stage I: thin melanoma < 2 mm in thickness
  • Stage II: thick melanoma > 2 mm in thickness
  • Stage III: melanoma spread to involve local lymph nodes
  • Stage IV: distant metastases have been detected.

Note: non-cutaneous forms of melanoma may have different staging criteria .

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Can Black People Get Skin Cancer

Yes, Black people can develop skin cancer. This is because they can be exposed to the same environmental risk factors, such as ultraviolet rays, as people of other races or ethnicities.

Overall, skin cancer is less common in Black people. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2018 , 1 case of melanoma occurred per 100,000 Black people, compared with 25 cases per 100,000 white people.

Skin Cancer On Dark Skin

While people with fair skin can be at a higher risk, People of Color can still get melanoma.

Recognizing skin changes is the best way to detect early melanoma. They most frequently appear on the upper back, torso, lower legs, head, and neck, but these may vary by age, gender, and race.

People with darker skin can get skin cancer in areas that do not commonly have sun exposure, like the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, the groin, and the inside of the mouth. They also may develop melanoma under their nails.

Symptoms of melanoma may include a patch of discolored skin, such as:

Experts recommend avoiding sunlight exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion or cream of SPF 30 or higher. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every 2 hours when outdoors. Avoid tanning salons and frequent sunbathing.

There is also an increase in skin cancer occurrence and deaths linked with skin cancer in People of Color due to a lack of awareness, receiving a diagnosis at a more advanced stage, and socioeconomic barriers hindering access to care.

Also Check: What Is Basal And Squamous Skin Cancer

How To Spot A Bcc: Five Warning Signs

Check for BCCs where your skin is most exposed to the sun, especially the face, ears, neck, scalp, chest, shoulders and back, but remember that they can occur anywhere on the body. Frequently, two or more of these warning signs and symptoms are apparent in a BCC tumor.

  • An open sore that does not heal, and may bleed, ooze or crust. The sore might persist for weeks, or appear to heal and then come back.
  • A reddish patch or irritated area, on the face, chest, shoulder, arm or leg that may crust, itch, hurt or cause no discomfort.
  • A shiny bump or nodule that is pearly or clear, pink, red or white. The bump can also be tan, black or brown, especially in people of color, and can be mistaken for a normal mole.
  • A small pink growth with a slightly raised, rolled edge and a crusted indentation in the center that may develop tiny surface blood vessels over time.
  • A scar-like area that is flat white, yellow or waxy in color. The skin appears shiny and taut, often with poorly defined borders. This warning sign may indicate an invasive BCC.
  • Please note: Since not all BCCs have the same appearance, these images serve as a general reference to what basal cell carcinoma looks like.

    An open sore that does not heal

    A reddish patch or irritated area

    A small pink growth with a slightly raised, rolled edge and a crusted indentation in the center

    A shiny bump or nodule

    A scar-like area that is flat white, yellow or waxy in color

    Read Also: What Do Melanoma Spots Look Like

    How Common Is Skin Cancer On Darker Skin

    Skin Cancer: How to spot melanoma warning signs

    Darker skin has more melanin, a pigment that determines skin tone. Having more melanin can absorb and deflect UV radiation, protecting the skin from sun damage.

    Because their skin is less vulnerable to damage, Black people have lower rates of skin cancer. For example, melanoma occurs in about 1 in 38 white people compared with 1 in 1,000 Black people.

    However, this does not mean people with darker skin cannot get skin cancer. When they do get it, it often goes undiagnosed until it has reached a more advanced stage. Because advanced cancer is harder to treat, Black people are

    Some signs of BCC to look for include:

    • a new or unusual growth on the skin
    • a smooth patch with a translucent bump
    • a growth with jelly-like contents
    • a lesion that bleeds spontaneously

    Black individuals commonly get BCC that is darker and less pearly in appearance.

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    Skin Cancer In Blacks

    SCC is the most common skin cancer in blacks.1 People are most likely to be diagnosed in their 40s.1 SCC is most often found on the lower limbs, head, neck, and genitals. SCC may develop in a scar, ulcer, or area affected by a traumatic injury.1 BCC is rare in black Americans, but has been reported in other black populations.1

    About 1.1 per 100,000 black Americans is diagnosed with melanoma.5 The most common type is acral lentiginous melanoma.6 Acral lentiginous melanoma is not related to sun exposure. This type of melanoma develops on palms, soles, joints, and nails.7,8 The lesion is usually black or brown, but can be colorless, as well. It may be mistaken for a bruise that does not go away.

    Among black Americans with melanoma, about half have local melanoma. The 5-year survival rate for local melanoma is 90%.2 About one quarter of melanoma is diagnosed after it has spread to nearby lymph nodes. The 5-year survival rate for regional melanoma is 46.7%. About 15% of cases are distant metastatic melanoma, which is when cancer has spread to other parts of the body. The 5-year survival rate at this stage is 21.6%.

    Skin Cancer Is A Risk No Matter The Skin Tone But It May Be Overlooked In People With Dark Skin

    By Sandy WestAugust 5, 2022

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    Recommendations For Prevention And Early Detection Of Skin Cancer In People Of Color

    Prevention is better than cure and more than 90% of skin cancers are preventable . Because many people of color believe that they are not at risk of skin cancer, education through media and doctors offices is extremely important. People of color should perform regular self examination of their skin from head to the toe carefully every month. There are various types of skin tumors, many are benign which include moles , warts and lipomas etc that can develop from different types of skin cells . However, unusual moles, sores, lumps, blemishes, markings or changes in the way an area of the skin looks or feels may be a sign of melanoma or another type of skin cancer or a warning that it might occur. Know your ABCDEs can be a good guide for people of color to detect melanoma at an early stage .

    How to Detect Melanoma Source:The Skin Cancer Foundation

    Delayed Diagnosis Worse Outcomes

    Content Blocks Archive

    There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma , squamous cell carcinoma , and melanoma. Each type can appear in several different ways. Cancerous lesions may look different in people with dark skin tones than they do in white people. For example, BCC is often pink or translucent in fair skinned individuals. In people with dark skin tones, BCC can be pigmented . Lesions that typically develop on sun-exposed skin in white persons may appear in less typical locations in people with dark skin tones.

    Because providers and patients may not recognize a lesion as skin cancer, it may take longer to diagnose. Delays mean that skin cancer is diagnosed at a later stage.1-4

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    What Are The Risks Associated With Skin Cancer In Black People

    Due to the fact that skin cancer is less common in Black people, some may perceive their risk of skin cancer as low. They may not seek care for potentially cancerous skin changes.

    A 2018 study used focus groups to evaluate Black and Latino peoples knowledge and attitudes about skin cancer. Researchers found that:

    • Many study participants perceived themselves to have a low risk of skin cancer due to having a darker skin tone or a lack of family history of skin cancer.
    • Black participants reported skin cancer symptoms more inconsistently than Latino participants.
    • Few study participants reported regular use of sun protection behaviors.

    Many times, skin cancer isnt diagnosed in Black people until its later stages. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, 25 percent of melanomas in Black people are diagnosed after the cancer has already spread to surrounding lymph nodes.

    Receiving a diagnosis at a later stage can make skin cancer much harder to treat. It can also negatively impact outlook.

    What Are The Signs Of Melanoma

    Knowing how to spot melanoma is important because early melanomas are highly treatable. Melanoma can appear as moles, scaly patches, open sores or raised bumps.

    Use the American Academy of Dermatology’s “ABCDE” memory device to learn the warning signs that a spot on your skin may be melanoma:

    • Asymmetry: One half does not match the other half.
    • Border: The edges are not smooth.
    • Color: The color is mottled and uneven, with shades of brown, black, gray, red or white.
    • Diameter: The spot is greater than the tip of a pencil eraser .
    • Evolving: The spot is new or changing in size, shape or color.

    Some melanomas don’t fit the ABCDE rule, so tell your doctor about any sores that won’t go away, unusual bumps or rashes or changes in your skin or in any existing moles.

    Another tool to recognize melanoma is the ugly duckling sign. If one of your moles looks different from the others, its the ugly duckling and should be seen by a dermatologist.

    Also Check: What Does Malignant Melanoma Look Like

    Bondi Becomes Nude Beach As Thousands Take Part In Spencer Tunicks Sydney Installation

    Legislation had to be changed to permit public nudity on the beach

    For the first time in its history, Bondi has been declared a nude beach.

    On Saturday, thousands of bodies huddled together in the early morning light to model in artist Spencer Tunicks latest Australian installation and his first in the name of skin cancer.

    Legislation had to be changed to permit public nudity on the beach Sydneysiders had until 10am to bare all on Bondi before risking a fine.

    The 2,500-strong crowd represented the approximate number of people who die of skin cancer nationally each year. Tunick hoped the installation would encourage Australians, who top the world for mortalities to the cancer, to get regular skin checks.

    Skin unites us and protects us, he said. I use the amazing array of body types and skin tones to create my work, so it feels perfectly appropriate to take part in this effort in that my medium is the nude human form.

    At 4am, Tunick stood on a small orange crane in the shadows, calling out demands from a megaphone. The crowd chuckled in the darkness, sheltering each other from the blistering sea wind.

    Put your arms out when youre posing and make sure you have the space of finger to finger, he called. Dont get naked yet.

    Those people that are wearing clothes, get out of the frame, he yelled. Dont smile. Hands by your side. Youre too much in a line.

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    Preventing Skin Cancer In Dogs

    Doctors Warn ‘Black Salve’ Cure For Skin Cancer Is More Ruse Than Remedy

    Some types of diseases are preventable, while others are not. As in humans, many cancers are the result of a genetic predisposition. In other cases, cancer is the result of a variety of factors coming together in an unlucky configuration, but there are a few things you can do to lower your dogs risk.

    The risk factor most in your control is exposure to sunlight. If you have a light-skinned, short-haired dog breed, limiting your dogs exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the peak daylight hours, may help lower his risk of skin cancer.

    The most important thing you can do to help your dog avoid skin cancer, however, is to familiarize yourself with all your dogs lumps, bumps, and rashes, perhaps during your daily grooming routine, and consult your veterinarian if you notice anything suspicious.

    This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

    Research Gate

    Squamous cell carcinoma may develop into an ulcer or sore, or become affected by one. This is known as a Marjolin ulcer. Marjolin ulcers can also develop from other cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, or osteosarcoma.

    • Bone infections

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    How Is Melanoma Treated

    Your melanoma treatment will depend on the stage of the melanoma and your general health.

    Surgery is usually the main treatment for melanoma. The procedure involves cutting out the cancer and some of the normal skin surrounding it. The amount of healthy skin removed will depend on the size and location of the skin cancer. Typically, surgical excision of melanoma can be performed under local anesthesia in the dermatologist’s office. More advanced cases may require other types of treatment in addition to or instead of surgery.

    Treatments for melanoma:

    • Melanoma Surgery: In the early stages, surgery has a high probability of being able to cure your melanoma. Usually performed in an office, a dermatologist numbs the skin with a local anesthetic and removes the melanoma and margins .
    • Lymphadenectomy: In cases where melanoma has spread, removal of the lymph nodes near the primary diagnosis site may be required. This can prevent the spread to other areas of your body.
    • Metastasectomy: Metastasectomy is used to remove small melanoma bits from organs.
    • Targeted cancer therapy: In this treatment option, drugs are used to attack specific cancer cells. This targeted approach goes after cancer cells, leaving healthy cells untouched.
    • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy includes treatments with high-energy rays to attack cancer cells and shrink tumors.
    • Immunotherapy: immunotherapy stimulates your own immune system to help fight the cancer.


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