Although melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are more prevalent in Caucasian skin, patients with darker Fitzpatrick Skin Types are also at risk of developing skin cancers, underscoring the importance for this patient population to practice appropriate photoprotection.
“Similar to fair skinned individuals, darker skinned individuals can also get sunburned and suffer the detrimental effects of ultraviolet (UV) exposure, which can contribute to the development of skin cancers. As such, appropriate measures of photoprotection such as the use of topically applied sunscreens with an SPF factor of at least 30, sun-protective clothing and sun avoidance must be practiced,” said Henry W. Lim, M.D., Chairman and C.S. Livingood Chair, department of dermatology, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit.
Skin cancers occurring in darker skinned patients also tend to be more pigmented than those occurring in Caucasian skin. While the typical sites of non-melanoma skin cancers in Asians and African Americans are similar to that of Caucasians, Dr. Lim said that darker skinned individuals can more commonly develop melanoma in atypical locations such as on the palms and especially the soles. According to Dr. Lim, this may, in part, be the reason why skin cancers and particularly melanoma is often diagnosed at a more advanced stage in darker skinned patients, underscoring the need for careful skin examinations and a higher vigilance in this patient population.
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