Skin Cancer Chooses No Color

Skin Cancer Can Hit Different Races

A new study debunked the misconception that only white people are susceptible to skin cancer.

According to a 2016 American Academy of Dermatology study, anyone regardless of skin color may develop melanoma. In addition, skin cancer is not always associated with sun exposure.

The researchers said in a report, “Far too often, black, Hispanic, and Asian patients with melanoma cancer tell us they believed that melanoma was only a danger for sun-seeking whites.”

The old notion is proven otherwise by the recent study that says, “But anyone – regardless of skin color – may develop melanoma, in both sun-exposed and sun-protected sites. Not noticing or ignoring a new or changing mole in a sun-protected site can be fatal.”

The study asserts that melanomas are more likely to be caused by genetics than the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, and far more likely to develop on sun-protected areas of the body in blacks, Hispanics and Asians.

In addition, the study shows melanoma incidence is higher in whites, death rates are relatively higher among people of color.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole.

Common Mistakes

Because of the misconception that skin cancer is caused by excessive sun exposure and more common with white race, survival rates tend to be low.

According to Arthur Rhodes, MD, MPH, a skin cancer expert and director of the Rush Melanoma Surveillance Clinic, misconceptions lead to delayed diagnosis which can be deadly as well.

Rhodes warns, “Early diagnosis results in a cure, while delayed diagnosis may be deadly.”

Rhodes stresses the need for monthly self-examination and examination in difficult-to-see areas on the body in family members, seeking the presence of a new mole, or a change in a pre-existing mole – a change in size, shape or color.

A pretty Caucasian girl.
A pretty Caucasian girl.

Melanoma Risk Factors

In May this year, skin cancer experts stressed the need for early diagnosis and the importance of knowing the risk factors for developing melanoma. May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention month.

According to the Rush Department of Dermatology, a variety of physical, historical, and genetic traits increase the risk for developing melanoma, including the following:

  • Having a mole present within the first two weeks of life (a birth mole) (10-fold increased risk)
  • Having a personal history of melanoma (nine-fold increased risk)
  • Having a family history of melanoma (eight-fold increased risk)
  • Having numerous moles and/or atypical moles (eight-fold to 40-fold increased risk)
  • Having had a Spitz tumor removed (eight-fold increased risk)
  • Having had an atypical nevus removed (seven-fold increased risk)
  • Having had at least 2 moles removed in the past (five-fold increased risk)
  • Prior treatment for psoriasis with more than 200 PUVA treatments (psoralen pills and ultraviolet A radiation) (five-fold increased risk)
  • Having had a basal cell cancer or squamous cell cancer (four-fold increased risk)
  • Presence of dense sun-induced freckles (three-fold increased risk)
  • Immune suppression related to disease or medication (three-fold increased risk)
  • Having red hair (two-fold increased risk)
  • Having Parkinson disease (two-fold increased risk)
  • Multiple sunburns in early childhood (two-fold increased risk)
Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.