Both answers to the question are rational. Dark skin is more resistant to the sun’s UV rays and less cancers develop, on the other hand, those that do bring worse outcomes.
The fair skinned population are almost twice as likely to have survived malignant melanoma 5 years on. Other variants, such as squamous cell carcinoma, appear more likely to spread internally for people with darker skin.
Whether genetic patterns play a part is not yet well understood. Established reasons include less use of sun protection and above all, later diagnosis.
Why Differences Exist
The citing of lower awareness as a factor is a moot point, a belief that dark skin is protected plays a greater part. This can reduce the use of sun protection, which is unhelpful.
People with dark, or black skin do get standard skin cancers, hyperpigmentation can be brought on by the sun, or melasma. Add in the additional ageing that everyone suffers and there are reasons to use sunscreen, or protective clothing.
Cancers on darker skin are more likely to be pigmented and harder to recognise, they can occur on palms, soles, under nails, in your eyes, so may be missed. Medical practitioners expect less skin cancer, so they see less.
Because of the perception of dark skin being low risk, regular skin checks with a dermatologist may not happen. Self checking rates can be lower, or awkward areas missed, such as those mentioned above.
All these factors come together to create a perfect storm of late diagnosis. Whatever the individual reason, this is the main driver of different outcomes.
Building Level Results
A sense of immunity because of increased melanin is best set aside. Please avoid too much time in the sun, wear clothing which protects, along with wrap around sunglasses and suitable sunscreen.
Common sunscreens, even with good protection levels can give darker skin a bit of a grey appearance. Try one based on zinc, or titanium nanoparticles, to eliminate this, or ask your pharmacist.
Check your skin regularly, including palms and the soles of your feet, under toe and finger nails, your groin area. Arrange a skin check with a dermatologist once a year.
If you find a new or changing growth, or mole, or a sore which is not healing, don’t wait for the next check, seek immediate support.
Where possible, find a dermatologist with sound skin cancer knowledge and experience in treating darker skin. The differences are subtle but understanding them matters.
Any advice you need is freely available from our team. To help with informed choices and bring the best possible outcomes.
For any assistance, or to book a consultation, call 020 8441 1043, or send an email via the Make An Appointment button below.