Tips to be fit: Can people of color get skin cancer? | Bless you


One in 1,000 colored people develops melanoma. Thirty percent of melanomas appear almost normal or develop in areas that many doctors are not looking. This may sound scary, but if caught early, melanoma can survive.

Your skin cells usually replicate to produce an identical cell. These new cells push older cells to the surface of your skin. The old cells then die and eventually fall off. If only one cell’s DNA changes, the new cells that replicate from the damaged cell can grow uncontrollably and form a mass of cancer cells.

About 15% of all melanomas diagnosed in the United States are due to nodular melanomas. They can appear anywhere on the body. These melanomas are particularly dangerous because they grow into the skin faster than they expand in width. That’s why most people don’t notice them. Nodular melanomas may appear as lumps that can be black, red, skin-colored, or a light patch of skin that doesn’t quite resemble the surrounding skin.

Five percent of melanomas develop under the fingernails, toenails, palms of the hands, or the soles of the feet. They can also be found in the lining of your nose and mouth. This form is most common in people with dark skin. Melanoma under a nail often appears as a brown or black streak that gets larger over time. If melanoma develops in the lining of your nose, it can cause persistent congestion and nosebleeds.

Age spots are flat areas of sun-damaged skin. They can vary in size and color and usually appear on the face, arms, shoulders, and hands. When these flat spots start to spread out and develop into an irregular shape, it’s time to get them examined.

The bald look has become very popular with men. This new look will expose your scalp to more UV rays. To all of you who have hair melanoma on your scalp are not easily recognized until they are advanced. When looking at your scalp, pay attention to the ABCDE of melanoma. ABCDE stands for asymmetry, irregularities in the edge, color changes, diameter (greater than about a quarter of an inch), and evolving (changes in appearance over time). Your scalp may itch or bleed continuously. See your doctor if you have any of these changes.

Melanomas can also develop in areas that are normally not exposed to the sun. If you experience any sensations, such as itching or bleeding around your testicles or penis, or in your vulva area, vaginal area, or anus that do not appear normal, you should see your doctor.

Melanoma can affect your eyes as well. You should see your doctor if you experience a scratchy feeling under your eyelids or changes in your vision such as blurred vision or loss of peripheral vision.

The Mayo Clinic lists these factors that can increase your risk of melanoma:

Light skin. Less pigment (melanin) in your skin means you have less protection from harmful UV radiation. If you have blonde or red hair, light eyes, and easily freckles or sunburn, you are more likely to develop melanoma than someone with a darker complexion. However, melanoma can develop in people of darker skin color, including Hispanic people and other people of color.

A story of sunburn. One or more severe sunburns with blistering can increase the risk of melanoma.

Excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Exposure to UV radiation from the sun and from tanning lamps and beds can increase the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma.

Live closer to the equator or at a higher elevation. People who live closer to the Earth’s equator, where the sun’s rays are more direct, experience more UV radiation than those who live further north or south. If you live at high altitudes, you will also be exposed to more UV radiation.

Have many birthmarks or unusual birthmarks. More than 50 normal birthmarks on your body indicate an increased risk of melanoma. Also, having an unusual type of birthmark increases the risk of melanoma. Medically known as dysplastic nevi, these are usually larger than normal moles and have irregular borders and a mixture of colors.

A family history of melanoma. If a close relative – like a parent, child, or sibling – has had melanoma, you also have a greater chance of developing melanoma.

Weakened immune system. People with compromised immune systems are at increased risk of melanoma and other skin cancers. Your immune system may be compromised if you take medicines that suppress the immune system, such as: B. after an organ transplant or if you have an immune-compromising disease such as AIDS.

The American Cancer Society recommends a few ways to reduce your risk of melanoma:

Avoid the sun during the day. In North America, the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

They absorb UV radiation all year round and clouds offer little protection from harmful rays.

Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 all year round, even on cloudy days.

Wear protective clothing. Cover your skin with dark, tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs, and a wide-brimmed hat that offers more protection than a baseball cap or visor. Look for ones that block both types of UV radiation – UVA and UVB rays.

Avoid tanning lamps and beds.

Examine your chest and torso, and the top and bottom of your arms and hands. Examine the front and back of your legs as well as your feet, including the soles and the spaces between your toes. Also, check your genital area and between your buttocks.

If you have a fitness question or concern, write to Tips to be Fit, PO Box 53443, Philadelphia, PA 19105 or email [email protected] To find past articles, go to and search for “Tips for Fit”.


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