It’s always good to share with friends- old and new, so why not start or join conversations with likeminded women. But above all, join us as part of a community of women showing that life after 50 can be fabulous! Melanocytes are the pigmented cells present in the body, and the cancer in these cells is called melanoma skin cancer. Melanin helps protect the skin against effects of the sun such as skin cancers and premature aging. The most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. Although skin cancer comprises only two to four percent of all cancers in Chinese and Japanese Asians, the incidence is rising. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer in Caucasians, Hispanics, Chinese, and Japanese Asians,8-10 and the second most common skin malignancy in African Americans and Asian Indians.8 In all races, basal cell carcinoma is usually linked to UV light exposure.
Unfortunately, many patients and even some physicians are under the impression that non-Caucasian people are immune to this disease.
UV light is not the primary risk factor for the development of squamous cell carcinoma in brown-skinned persons within the African Diaspora, and the head and neck are not the most common sites for squamous cell carcinoma. When to Seek Medical Care: New or existing moles (brown, pink, or flesh colored spots) that are asymmetric, have an irregular border, change in color, appear larger than the size of a pencil eraser, or change in any way should be examined by a dermatologist, as should any brown spots on the hands, soles, or under the nails. To stop the development of skin cancer and delay skin aging, people of all ethnicities are encouraged to follow The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Prevention Guidelines.

The US Census Bureau projects that by the year 2050, 50 percent of the US population will be comprised of Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans.28 Now, more than ever, it is pivotal to raise awareness of skin cancer in people of color. In 2006, Ivis Febus-Sampayo noticed that the small mole on the right side of her face looked a bit darker. Our Seal is a symbol of safe and effective sun protection that is recognized by consumers worldwide. Cells in the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) called melanocytes produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin and eyes their color.
Similarly, skin cancer represents one to two percent of malignancies in African Americans and Asian Indians.8-14 Unfortunately, mortality rates remain disproportionately high in darker-skinned people. Basal cell carcinomas are mainly found on body parts that receive the most sun exposure (Figure 2). However, one study showed that when Hispanic patients develop basal cell carcinomas they are more likely to have multiple lesions either at the time of presentation or in ensuing years.16 Risk factors other than UV light for basal cell carcinoma in minority populations include previous radiation therapy, albinism (a group of genetic disorders that causes people to have a partial or total lack of melanin), trauma, burn scars (particularly among Asian Indians), other chronic scarring processes, arsenic exposure, solid organ transplantation, and genetic skin conditions. Gohara is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Dermatology at Yale New Haven Hospital. Their inherently light skin color and low amounts of melanin leave them vulnerable to the sun’s carcinogenic (cancer-causing) ultraviolet rays. Tanning and sunburns are analogous to cigarettes in that just one can increase your risk of cancer, regardless of skin color. Luke’s Roosevelt Medical Center, and associate professor of clinical dermatology at Columbia University, New York City.

As it can be seen through bare eyes, early diagnosis and cure is possible through minor surgery. These delays mean that skin cancers are often advanced and potentially fatal, whereas most skin cancers are curable if caught and treated in a timely manner. Treatment of the cancer includes radiotherapy, surgical removal, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy and adjuvant treatment. Tragically, this is what happened to legendary reggae musician Bob Marley: What was dismissed as a soccer injury under his toenail turned out to be an aggressive form of melanoma that ultimately caused his death at 36. Perez is the author of over 100 publications, and is co-author of Understanding Melanoma: What You Need to Know. Melanoma is usually caused by damage of the DNA cells, caused by UV light from the sun, UV light from sun beds can also be a cause.
Marley’s story reminds us why both medical providers and the public need to be educated about skin cancer and skin of color.

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