WHAT’S YOUR SKIN CANCER RISK?
Since there is a shortage of research on richer, deeper skin tones, there is little writing available to educate healthcare professionals on the different ways skin cancer can manifest itself in darker skin. It is true that people of color have added protection against the UV rays of the sun. However, it is also true that those from African-American, Asian, Latino and Native American backgrounds usually have higher morbidity and mortality rates for skin cancer than their fairer skin counterparts. The most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) occurs less frequently in people with darker skin and rarely spreads. In all races, basal cell carcinoma is usually linked to ultraviolet (UV) light exposure and is mainly found on body parts that receive the most sun exposure. Although it is not the most dangerous form of skin cancer, it is still important to watch out for it because of the sharply growing number of cases over the last 20 years, especially in women.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer and more popular than BCC in people with rich complexions. Fairer-skinned and lighter-eyed individuals are at a higher risk for SCC, but anyone with a history of long sun exposure is at risk. It will occasionally spread to underlying tissues if left untreated. In the rare occasion that it begins to invade these tissues, there is the possibility that the disease will spread to other tissues and organs and can eventually be fatal. This cancer can occur anywhere on the body; however, it is most common in areas with the most exposure to sunlight.
Melanoma is the most dangerous and deadly form of skin cancer in people with darker skin types. Although it is often curable if discovered early, many cases aren’t revealed until it is too late to effectively treat the disease. Unlike other skin cancer, melanoma has great potential for spreading, and once it reaches other parts of the body, it is very difficult to treat. This cancer most often develops due to an individual’s overexposure to the sun and other forms of ultraviolet rays (i.e. artificial light).