Whilst cancer rates have increased across all skin pigmentations, so has our ability to understand and treat them.
Skin cancer is more prevalent in people with a pale complexion. Taking middle range figures from across the UK, they are around 13 times more likely to have skin cancer than those with an Asian, or black complexion.
Whilst this may seem to minimise the problem, UK wide, there are still over 10,000 cases per year for those with darker skin. Those cases can also carry complications.
The 5 year melanoma survival rate for people with black skin is 69%, against 93% for white skin. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer on darker skin and is more likely to spread to other parts of the body than on lighter skin.
A lesser incidence of early diagnosis is part of the issue. To an extent caused by cancers, including melanoma, often arising on the palms, soles, mucous membranes, or nail areas of darker skinned people.
They can be harder to spot at an early stage, or be misunderstood. Knowledge of the way skin cancers develop on dark skin is important.
Another factor to bear in mind with darker skin is that people are being affected at a younger age, as in this well known example. The same is true of most populations but appears a little higher and is a reason to have skin anomalies investigated.
In Depth Diagnosis
One of the consultants at our London clinics will carefully assess issues you raise and wider symptoms. They are likely to examine your hands, feet and scalp, although skin cancers on the body still make up around a third of cases.
Knowing why worse skin cancer outcomes occur on dark skin matters. Experience with a range of skin types and cancers is the key to sound diagnosis, whilst state of the art technical aids help gather evidence.
Alongside normal dermatologolical imaging, our clinics are uniquely equipped with reflective confocal microscopy. A laser based system, able to see beneath your skin and often avoid the need for biopsies.
In cases where a biopsy is required, this will be carried out by a skilled consultant. As with every part of your diagnosis, focused on personal, effective treatment.
Skin Cancer Treatment
There is a detailed section on skin cancer treatment, with information on every aspect of care. Including treatment through medication, non invasive lasers, or photodynamic therapy.
Surgical excision can also be appropriate, to see the cancer gone and less likely to return. This can include a specialist technique called Mohs surgery, developed to bring maximum effect, with minimum damage.
If surgery is required, this will be fully discussed with you. Your consultant may examine any previous scars you have and assess the likelihood of your skin to hyperpigment, or scar heavily, core considerations for darker skin.
Good decisions, from accurate diagnosis are essential, although so is attuning treatment to individual patients. Initial risk levels due to skin colour may vary but treatment is personal for all of us.
Care At Our London Clinic
We offer a dedicated, multi disciplinary skin cancer team. Able to recognise and treat cancers not seen so often, such as acral lentiginous melanoma, which appears on lighter areas of dark skin, commonly the soles or palms.
Your condition, your skin and personal choices all help to formulate decisions, in an environment dedicated to skin cancer care.
You can see more on the way we provide dermatology for darker skin, or give our friendly staff a call. They are knowledgeable and happy to discuss any concerns you have.