We're hearing some startling new numbers about skin cancer.
We all know people with fair skin have a greater risk for developing the potentially deadly disease, but a closer look at the numbers reveal death rates are much higher for people with darker complexions.
"Personally, I came from Africa," Lionel Osy said. "I'm not out there too long - I go from office to car so I really don't need it."
It's true - the darker your skin, the lower risk you have for getting skin cancer, but the reality is, says Dr. Sherry Ingraham of Advanced Dermatology - everyone needs to wear protection.
"I do see a lot of Hispanic patients that didn't grow up using sunscreen, the ads in the media aren't directed towards these patient populations and it's just not a part of their culture," she said.
Dr. Ingraham said the rate of melanoma in African Americans is only 1 per 100,000 compared to 22 per 100,000 in Caucasians, but the five-year survival rate is much worse in blacks at 77% compared to 91% in whites.
"That's because they are being caught at a later stage - so they have a much more prominent rate of the lesions metastasizing and spreading to other areas," said Dr. Ingraham.
The issue has captured the attention of the American Medical Association which is now calling for greater skin protection efforts aimed in "communities of color."
"I think that's what the issue is, people of my color always feel like we don't need it, but maybe we do, but its part of education though - we need to educate ourselves," Osy said.
Possibly, even more startling - Dr. Ingraham said African Americans also have a higher risk of developing skin cancers that don't have anything to do with the sun, but genetics especially in areas like on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet and under nails.
And because the threat of skin cancer is usually not a priority - it too goes untreated.
"If you notice a streak on your nail or spot that looks like a wart or bruise it's worth it to check it - sometimes those bruises are early melanomas they can be misleading especially on areas like the feet," she said.
Dr. Ingraham recommends you do a full body check once a month.
She said you want to look for any moles or areas that have changed or are bleeding.
Alarming Numbers About Skin Cancer And Minorities
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