Skin Cancer is very common. One misconception is that darker skinned people do not need to use sun protection due to the increased amount of melanin in their skin. This cancer has been diagnosed in people of African, Asian, Latino and Native American descent.
According to www.skincancer.net, when cancer develops in skin of color, the cancer is more often advanced by the time it is diagnosed. Researchers are not sure why. It could be that the cancer is not recognized until the later stages in skin of color. Another possibility cited is that the cancer may be more aggressive in darker skin.
People with skin of color should learn:
- How to recognize possible signs of Skin Cancer
- How to perform a Skin Self Exam
- The importance of having a Skin Cancer Screening
Knowing the signs can be life saving, Skin cancer develops diffrently in skin of color than paler skin. Acral Lentiginous Melanoma (ALM) is an aggressive melanoma, which makes up many of the melanomas found in skin of color. ALM is unique in that it does not look like a typical skin cancer. It may look like a bruise on the skin or pigmented streak under a nail.
ALM also does not appear in the usual places. ALM only develops beneath nails, on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands, and on mucous membranes-inside the mouth and nose, anus, urinary tract, and female genitals.
Warning Signs of ALM and other skin cancers include:
- Bruise or sore that does heal.
- Stripe beneath a nail.
- Mole that is changing.
- Scar (new or changing).
- Flat patch of discolored skin.
- Scaley patch with thickened skin and a well-defined border.
- White patch on tongue or inside mouth.
- Blotchy skin, especially on the legs.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, everyone should have screening for skin cancer, there are free screenings taking place all across the country, especially during the month of May, which is Skin Cancer Awareness and Detection Month. http://skincarephysicians.com/skincancernet/skin_of_color.html
Remember, the first line of defense is good quality sun protection and sensible sun safety habits. Next week we will examine the many choices of sun protection, from clothing to retail products.
Please call Lori, RN to help you with any questions you have.