Keep feeling the need for being first.
But I want you to be first in love.
I want you to be first in moral excellence.
I want you to be first in generosity.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Did you know that anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of skin color? The deadliest form of skin cancer is melanoma. Caucasians are more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than other ethnic groups. Those with blue eyes, red hair, and fair skin that easily sunburns, are at a particularly higher risk than others. Persons of color, like African-Americans, are the least susceptible to skin cancer, but have a higher morbidity and mortality rate from skin cancer. There are a few reasons for this. But, one is due to a reduced suspicion for skin cancer and thus a delay in care. By the time a diagnosis is received, the tumors are aggressive and much more difficult to treat. When caught early, skin cancer is curable for everyone.
Early detection of melanoma is crucial! Melanoma can develop suddenly on the skin, but can also develop from an existing mole. The most common location for melanoma in Caucasian men is the back. The lower legs and back are common sites for melanoma in Caucasian women. The most common locations of melanoma in Asian, Hispanic, and African-American populations are on non-sun-exposed areas: palms, soles, nails, and inside the mouth. All these sites can be particularly difficult for anyone to examine alone, especially as we become older-- our vision declines and we are not as limber as we once were.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S.. Therefore, it is recommended that everyone receive a full body skin examination by a board-certified dermatologist once a year for screening. We provide full body skin examinations at the Carter Snell Skin Center. Self examination once a month is also very important. This will help detect spots in between appointments that are new or changing. And just like "two heads are better than one," two set of eyes are better than one. Follow these dermatology tips [below] on what to look for when examining yourself and others. Call it a Valentine's Day gift to yourself or someone you care about. Even sharing this blog post could be just the gift someone needs. You could be saving a life.
Know the warning signs of melanoma. Know your ABC's:
Also, because of the higher incidence of melanoma in a fingernail or toenail in people of color, the Skin of Color Society finds this “alphabet of nail melanoma” to be a useful guide for self and physician examinations:
A – Age range 20-90 years
African-American, Native American, or Asian
B – Band of Brown or Black pigment in nail OR
Breadth of >3mm OR
Border that is irregular/blurred
C – Change in size or growth rate of nail band OR
lack of Change in irregular nail despite treatment
D – Digit involved (nail melanoma is most common in the thumb>big toe>index finger)
Pigmented band on a single Digit is more suspicious
Dominant hand involvement is more common
E – Extension of brown or black pigment to the side or base of the nail
F – Family or personal history of melanoma or irregular moles