This article has been reviewed according to Science X's editorial process and policies. Editors have highlighted the following attributes while ensuring the content's credibility:


reputable news agency


Melanoma misconception: Dark skin tones at risk, too

black people
Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

The myth that people with dark skin are immune to melanoma, a type of skin cancer, has persisted for many years. It's a dangerous misconception that has caused some people not to be diligent about protecting themselves against dangerous UV rays.

Dr. Dawn Davis , a Mayo Clinic dermatologist, says people with darker skin tones need to be vigilant about sun protection.

"Melanin is the protein component of the skin that gives our ," says Dr. Davis.

Darker skin tones have more melanin. The pigment protects against sun damage and lowers the risk of . Some people with dark complexions think melanin shields them from getting cancer. But Dr. Davis says that's a myth.

"All patients, including who are skin of color, have a risk of melanoma. Children can also have melanoma," explains Dr. Davis.

When develops in people of color, it's often diagnosed at a later stage and is more aggressive. But that could be because skin cancer in people with darker skin may appear in unexposed areas.

"Under your armpits, in your genital area, under your nails, fingernails and toenails, and on the palms and soles," says Dr. Davis.

Dr. Davis says , including children, should wear sunscreen and perform regular skin self-exams.

How to reduce the risk of melanoma

The longer you're exposed to the sun, the greater the risk for developing skin cancer. Dr. Davis says there are several things people can do to protect their skin:

  • Wear sunscreen of at least 30 SPF.
  • Perform regular skin self-exams.
  • See a health professional for abnormal growths or warts.
  • Wear protective clothing.

2023 Mayo Clinic News Network.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Citation: Melanoma misconception: Dark skin tones at risk, too (2023, May 12) retrieved 22 September 2023 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Skin cancer survivors: How to stay safe in the sunshine


Feedback to editors