Just because you don’t sunburn easily doesn’t mean you’re safe from skin cancer. Sunlight can damage the skin of anyone, including people with darker skin tones.
When skin cancer develops in people of color, it is often diagnosed at more advanced stages and has more serious outcomes. According to the National Cancer Institute, Latinos, Asians and African Americans often aren’t diagnosed early because the individuals did not know they were at risk of skin cancer or because they didn’t seek treatment soon enough.
Everyone should do regular self-exams to check for signs of skin cancer. Visit a board-certified dermatologist if you notice changes. What is meant by changes? A new mole or other growth on your skin. a patch of skin that’s different in color or changes color, a sore that doesn’t heal — all of these are examples of skin changes. Ask the person who cuts your hair to watch for any spots or moles on your scalp and ears.
American dermatologists encourage persons with black and brown skin to reduce their risk of skin damage by staying in the shade when possible, wearing clothing, shoes and hats that cover as much skin as possible and applying sunscreen every few hours when outdoors.
Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.