There’s a prevailing myth that people with darker skin tones don’t get skin cancer. This misconception is prevalent among Latino and Black populations, but anyone, regardless of skin color, descent or heritage, can develop skin cancer, especially if exposed to ultraviolet rays (UV) from the sun or from tanning beds for an extended period of time. In fact, skin cancer can sometimes be even more challenging with dark skin, because the cancer may not get diagnosed until it’s in more advanced stages.
It’s also important to remember that the sun and tanning beds are not the only causes of skin cancer. That’s why skin cancer may show up in places that are rarely, if ever, exposed to sunlight. These include areas between the toes, on the soles of the feet, in the eyes (called ocular melanoma) and on genitalia.
The most common sign of possible skin cancer is skin that changes in some way. This can include a new growth, a sore that won’t heal or an old growth that has changed in size or color.
Types of Skin Cancer
The most frequently diagnosed type of skin cancer among Latinos is basal cell carcinoma, but also have a higher frequency of melanoma in areas of the body not often exposed to the sun, including the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, in nail beds, inside the mouth or on the genitals.
Among Black populations, squamous cell carcinoma is the most frequently diagnosed type of skin cancer.
Another type of skin cancer is Merkel cell carcinoma.
Preventing Skin Cancer
The experts at Miami Cancer Institute’s Multidisciplinary Skin Clinic recommend the following to decrease your risk of developing skin cancer:
- Limit sun exposure, especially when the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and avoid tanning beds altogether.
- Wear a hat and apply sunscreen before going outdoors.
- Have any new or changing moles or sores quickly evaluated by a healthcare professional.
- Obtain a full-body skin exam from your primary care provider or dermatologist every year.
Miami Cancer Institute’s internationally recognized skin cancer specialty and subspecialty team combines medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care, all under one roof and all conveniently located right here in South Florida.