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WTAP @ 5: To Your Health Report: Skin Cancer & Race

By: Christi Paul
By: Christi Paul

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 70-thousand people will develop some form of skin cancer this year.

And patients with a naturally darker complexion may be at the highest risk.

Why?

Here's Christi Paul with Today's Health Minute.

We all know by now that too much sun exposure isn't good for us.

Yet many people with darker complexions assume they don't need to worry about damaging rays because their skin has darker pigmentation.

Doctors are finding, that's not the case.

"We still have photo aging, we can still have sun damage and the sun can still harm our skin."

Stacy Nam was diagnosed with melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer, in her late twenties.

Because she is Asian American, she never thought about sun damage.

"I didn't burn as easily as my caucasian friends...I really didn't put on sunblock that much"

Research from a 2006 University of Cincinnati study showed that dark-skinned people-once thought to be "immune" to skin cancers-are more likely than whites to die from the disease, even though more whites develop the condition.

That's because when the disease does occur in people of color , it is typically more aggressive and diagnosed in its later stages, which leads to disproportionately more deaths among minority populations, especially blacks.

"The most common places where you look for melanoma is the exact opposite where you look for it in other races...fingertips, toes..and those are areas where people aren't paying attention, especially in the feet."

For Stacy Nam that means checking for spots, less time in the sun and and applying sunblock daily.

For Today's Health Minute, I'm Christi Paul.


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