Skin Cancer Where The Sun Don't Shine

March 18, 2016






If Puget Sound were a state, it would rank #4 in the nation for skin cancer. If you think "it's raining, I don't need sunscreen", think again. If you don't need a flashlight, you need sunscreen and to reapply often.  Read the article from the Washington State Department of Health here:


Not only does daily and repeated use of sunscreen help prevent skin cancer, it helps repair and heal skin while fighting free radicals, which leads to visible aging. From lines and wrinkles to hyperpigmentation (usually the first  sign of aging), sunscreen is your best defense and offense. While it's always easier to prevent than repair, there's no reason not to use every tool to fight premature aging. 


To make it easier to use sunscreen, look for dual purpose products: Moisturizer with sunscreen, makeup with sunscreen. You get the idea. Aim for at least SPF 30, but SPF 15 is better than none.


And Sun Exposure Isn't Necessarily the Problem


Let's go back to the State of Puget Sound. There's worse news. It would rank #5 in the nation for melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.


Often thought of as a "white man's" disease, people of color aren't immune to skin cancer, despite the protection of additional melanin. Black people enjoy a built in SPF equal to approximately 13, but skin cancer is both non-discriminatory and not always associated with sun exposure. And black women have the highest skin cancer mortaility rate, so it's something that should be taken seriously.


Squamus cell carcinoma is most commonly found in black Americans and Eastern Indians. It accounts for 75% of all non-melanoma skin cancer deaths. SCC may appear as non-healing ulcers, growths, and sores next to scars, areas of prior physical trauma, or inflammation, particularly if they appear on the legs. 


Melanoma in caucasians and, to a lesser extent, Hispanics, typically presents in areas of the body frequently exposed to UV rays. In blacks and Asians, however, it often presents in areas where the UV exposure is infrequent - soles of the feet, palms, inside the mouth, but also under nail beds.  New or existing moles (brown, pink, black, red, or flesh-colored spots) that are asymmetric, have an irregular border, change in color, are larger than a pencil eraser, or change in any way may indicate melanoma.


Everyone should be doing a monthly skin self-exam, looking for lesions that bleed, ooze, crust, don’t heal, or last longer than a month: These may indicate basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer and usually associated with UV exposure.


Any warning signs should be examined by a dermatologist, of course.


Don't Think It Can Happen to You?


Bob Marley died at age 36 from melanoma which first appeared as a dark spot under a toe nail. If it could happen to him, and it did, it could happen to you.


These Famous Minorities also Died from Skin Cancer:


Randy Castillo, Native American/Hispanic, Drummer for Motely Crew, Age 52

Theresa Merritt, Black, Actress in numerous films, Age 76

Kwame Nkrumah, Black, Politician (Ghana), Age 63

Joe Hinton, Black, Singer, Age 39

Clare Oliver, Asian/Caucasian, Activist, Age 26

Constante Diego, Latino, Director, Age 57



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