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Dark Skin Tones Lead Melanoma Death Rates

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For years there has been a common misconception that ethnicities with darker skin tones are less prone to becoming casualties of skin cancer. According, a recent study shows that melanoma-related deaths are actually more common in darker skin tones.

In the study, 41,072 Florida residents with advanced melanoma were classified based on race. African Americans made up Twenty-six percent of the cases, 18% were Hispanics, and only 12% were Caucasian. But what’s the reasoning for this? Apparently minorities are less likely to be treated for skin cancer during the early detection stages.

Since there is an overwhelming public focus on the effects of sun damage on people with fair skin, their darker-skinned counterparts often feel bulletproof. That, and darker skin usually doesn’t burn or peel after having an excessive amount of sun exposure. According to Dr. Marcy Street, the first African-American female MOHS surgeon in the U.S., “there is a fairly common misconception among African Americans and Hispanics that we do not get skin cancer. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

To fight this statistic, individuals with darker skin should perform regular self-checks to ensure early detection of skin cancer. The ABCD Rule is recommended by the American Melanoma Association to help determine if a skin abnormality is cancerous or not:

  • Asymmetry: if a lesion doesn’t look the same on both sides if it were divided in half
  • Border: if the edges are blurry or jagged
  • Color: any changes in color or if there are multiple colors within a lesion
  • Diameter: if the lesion larger than ¼” in diameter

Skin cancer can be found almost anywhere on the body, including places that are not exposed to the sun directly. It is important to perform regular self-checks and report any abnormalities to your physician. And don’t forget that no matter how dark your skin is, it is always important to lather on a sunscreen of SPF30 or higher.