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Black People Get Skin Cancer Too!

By on August 4, 2011

Summer is probably the most beloved of all seasons! Millions of us love the sunny days, hanging at the beach or just lounging in the
backyard having a cookout with family and friends. Sadly, many sun lovers will pay the ultimate price and develop skin cancer. The American Cancer society says exposure to the sun and its ultra violet rays (UV) is the leading cause of skin cancer. Translation, more than 10,000 people will die from it this year alone.

There are three types of skin cancer:

  1. Basal Cell (BCC)
  2. Squamous Cell (SCC)
  3. Melanoma

Melanoma is the most serious form of the three and is more common among white people. However, it is more deadly in Blacks and
Hispanics due to its late detection. How’s that for incentive to manage your sun exposure? Sadly, many of us don’t realize that we CAN get sunburned. The myth has some thinking that due to our dark pigment we cannot fall prey to the dreaded disease. This is simply not true which contributes to the cancer being discovered later.

A late diagnosis of the disease often results in a poor prognosis and a less than optimum response to treatment. Fortunately there are a number of treatment options depending on the histology (type of skin cancer) and the staging of the diseases (the size or how advanced it is).The lesions can be treated with one of the following methods:

1. Freezing: To destroy the cancerous cells with liquid nitrogen
2. Surgery: To remove the cells along with a small margin of normal cells
3. Laser Therapy: Use of laser light to destroy the cells with little damage to normal tissue
4. Radiation Therapy: Use of ionizing radiation when surgery isn’t the best option alone
5. Chemotherapy: Systemic chemotherapy to treat the disease that has spread to other areas
Talk to your doctor and ask questions about what’s the best treatment option based on your diagnosis. Skin cancer can be hereditary but for the most part if good judgment is used, most of us will be fine. Remember to always use a sunscreen/sunblock that has a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Wearing a hat and long sleeves/long pants are proven to be effective as well as limiting
your sun exposure to begin with.  And if you have to be outside, avoid being outside for long periods of time during the mid to early afternoons hours, when the sun is at its peak. But you can still enjoy the warm sunrays but don’t forget to protect your skin. You will thank yourself
later in life.


Maurice T. Judkins is a Radiation Therapist and Contributor to healthyblackmen.org.


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