Skin cancer is the most widely diagnosed type of cancer in the U.S. People of color tend to get skin cancer less often than white people. However, when they do get skin cancer, it tends to be diagnosed in its advanced, more dangerous stages. People of all ethnic backgrounds can protect themselves from this life-threatening disease by seeing a dermatologist once per year for a skin cancer screening.
What does skin cancer look like?
Spotting suspicious lesions or raised areas can be more difficult among people with diverse skin colors. One smart strategy you can use is to check yourself all over once per month. This lets you get accustomed to how your skin looks in different areas, and you’ll be more likely to spot abnormalities. Use a large wall mirror and a handheld mirror to look for the following changes:
- Area of unusually persistent dry or rough skin
- Dark line near a fingernail or toenail
- Lesion that refuses to heal
- Lesion that heals and then returns
- Slow-healing sore that develops in a previously injured area
- Dark growth, patch, or spot that bleeds or increases in size
See a dermatologist promptly if you notice anything odd.
Where does skin cancer develop?
Skin cancer can develop anywhere, even in places that don’t get much sunlight. When you check your skin for these abnormalities, be sure to check these often-missed areas:
- Palms of the hands
- Soles of the feet
- Fingernail and toenail areas
- Groin and buttocks
You may need to ask a family member or close friend to help you check the areas that are difficult for you to see. Consider asking your hairstylist to let you know about any abnormalities on your scalp.
Are there differences in skin cancer among ethnic groups?
Sometimes, but people of all ethnic groups should consider any abnormal, persistent changes to be a potential sign of skin cancer. People of Asian descent may be more likely to spot a raised, roundish growth that may look black or brown. People with black or brown skin tend to develop cancerous growths on the palms, soles of the feet, areas around the nails, and areas around the genitals and anus.
At Arlington Dermatology, it’s our mission to save lives by promoting better awareness, earlier detection, and effective treatments of skin cancer. Please don’t wait to see a dermatologist in Arlington Heights if you see a suspicious lesion or bump. Call 847-392-5440 and we’ll fit you in our schedule right away.