Skin Cancer in People of Color
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People of color: This term refers to diverse skin colors and includes people of African, Asian, Latino, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Native American descent.

People of all colors, including those with brown and black skin, get skin cancer. Even if you never sunburn, you can get skin cancer.

When skin cancer develops in people of color, it’s often in a late stage when diagnosed. This can be deadly when the person has melanoma, a type of skin cancer that can spread quickly. Treatment for any type of skin cancer can be difficult in the late stages.

The good news is you can find skin cancer early. Found early, most skin cancers, including melanoma, can be cured.

There’s also a lot you can do to reduce your risk of getting skin cancer.

Ask the person who cuts your hair to tell you if you have a growth or odd-looking spot on your scalp.
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How people of color can find skin cancer

Because skin cancer begins on the skin, this cancer can be found early. The best way to find skin cancer is to check your own skin.

Here’s what dermatologists recommend for people who have skin of color:

What you can do
Skin self-exam: This is a full body exam of your skin
What you need
A full-length mirror and a partner or handheld mirror
When
Monthly
What to look for

People who have skin of color want to look for the following:
  • Dark spot, growth, or darker patch of skin that is growing, bleeding, or changing in any way
  • Sore that won’t heal — or heals and returns
  • Sore that has a hard time healing, especially if the sore appears in a scar or on skin that was injured in the past
  • Patch of skin that feels rough and dry
  • Dark line underneath or around a fingernail or toenail
How to check your skin
  • Look at your skin from head to toe
  • Examine hard-to-see areas like the top of your head and back by using a handheld mirror or asking a partner to check these areas.
Where to look closely
  • Check places that get little sun — the bottoms of your feet, toenails, lower legs, groin, and buttocks.
  • Spend time looking at the skin on your head, neck, and hands. Be sure to look inside your mouth, examine your palms, and check for dark lines around and underneath your fingernails.
What to do if you find something See a dermatologist. You can find a dermatologist near you by using Find a Dermatologist.

 

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