Skin cancer is colorblind — no ‘free pass’

Posted by Superior on May 30th, 2009 and filed under Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

“It was bizarre,” recalled the 41-year-old salon owner from Minneapolis, Minnesota. “I just thought it was a pimple.”

Wilson, who is African-American, can’t say exactly what prompted her to point out the bump to her physician, but she said she remembered thinking the diagnosis wouldn’t be anything serious.

“It never occurred to me that it was skin cancer,” she said. But it was. She had basal cell carcinoma, the most common skin cancer.

Wilson spent long hours as a child in the summer sun at Lake Nokomis in Minnesota and went to the tanning bed before visiting relatives in the Caribbean, she said. She also said she never wore sunscreen.

“Back then, I just don’t think people were aware of the effects [of the sun],” she said.

Those may seem like obvious red flags to people who are sun-conscious, but they were foreign concepts to Wilson, which is why her diagnosis came as a shock.

“I just assumed, ‘I’m a person of color, I’ll be OK,’ ” she said.

Dermatologists say they are concerned because skin cancer rates are increasing among minority groups in the United States. Like Wilson, many people of color often mistakenly believe skin cancer is not something they should be worried about.artskincancerrace

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