Dark Skin and Melanoma – Fact and Fiction

dark skin moleIt is commonly thought that those with darker skin are better protected from the sun and less susceptible to skin cancer. 

To a certain extent that is true. The additional melanin (pigment) in the skin means that those with dark skin are less likely to burn and this directly reduces the overall risk of them experiencing the onset of skin cancer.

However, the important and over overlooked point is that once skin cancer has developed, the chances of survival in those with darker skin are lower.

Firstly, the diagnosis tends to be later due to a combination of lower general awareness and also the fact that melanoma tends to appear in more unusual areas that are not as exposed to the sun.

In those with dark skin, melanoma most often develops in unusual and surprising places which are not exposed to the sun, such as palms of hands, soles of feet, beneath nails, between toes, on the scalp, behind ears and even in the mouth, nose, between buttocks or genitals.

Singer Bob Marley’s death was caused by melanoma beneath the toenail, which was diagnosed too late for the treatment provided to be effective.

The delay of any diagnosis means that treatment tends to be started later which decreases the likelihood of it being effective.

What to Look For

Everyone should check their skin regularly for any worrying signs.

Dr Ross Perry refers to it as the ‘ugly duckling’ syndrome – a skin lesion or blemish that simply looks wrong or different from the others. It could be a sore that does not heal, unusual coloration or spread of pigment, a growing or changing shape. People should also be very alert for itching, pain, bleeding or oozing. The ABCDE rule is a handy reference guide for mole checking.

Head to Toe Mole Check

Cosmedics Skin Clinics offer a top to toe mole check at their London and Bristol clinics with experienced mole removal surgeons.

Mole removal

If required, private mole removal is available. Moles are removed using the latest surgical techniques including laser mole removal; with trained doctors and surgeons.

For more information or to book a consultation, please complete the form on this web page or call 020 7386 0464.