No Skin Tone is Safe from Melanoma

It was often thought that individuals of darker skin tones were less likely to die from melanoma. According to, however, a recent survey has found that ethnic groups with darker complexions make up the majority of melanoma death rates.

41,072 Florida residents with advanced melanoma were surveyed and then classified based on the ethnicity. Caucasians made up only 12% of the cases, while 18% were Hispanics and 26% were African Americans. There isn’t a lengthy scientific reason for these statistics, either. People of darker skin tones have been incorrectly led to believe that they are less prone to deadly skin cancers and therefore do not adequately pre-screen for them.

With an overwhelming amount of focus in the news and media on the effects of sun damage on individuals with fair skin, their darker-skinned counterparts have a false sense of safety. That, and dark skin hardly ever shows visible signs of sun damage so individuals often disregard the trauma they are causing to their skin with excessive UVA/B exposure.

Early detection of melanoma is possible with regular self-exams. The American Melanoma Association recommends using the ABCD Rule to help determine if a skin abnormality may be cancerous:

  • 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

Cancerous cells can develop anywhere on the body, even areas that are not directly exposed to the sun. It is important to report any questionable moles or lesions to a physician to ensure early diagnosis. And remember: everyone should use sunscreen, no matter how tan or fair-skinned they are.

To Your Health & Beauty,

Kent V. Hasen, M.D.

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