“That was my thing. I just loved being out in the sun and getting that vitamin D and that relaxation with my headphones,” said Ila Smith, a nurse practitioner.
The dermatologist’s assistant she was friends with warned her about the dark spot on her hip. 10 years later when she accidentally scratched the dark mark and it broke off and started bleeding, she remembered the nurse’s warning.
The spot which she had accidentally torn off from her skin and had bled, started itching. Then, she booked an appointment with a dermatologist and was diagnosed with malignant melanoma.
Smith’s cancer was detected at an early stage as a result of which she was not administered for chemotherapy. She underwent surgery to remove the cancerous growth. 3 inches of skin around the dark spot and 1.5 inches deep was removed. As per the report, Smith wears sunscreen and sun-protective clothing whenever she is out in the Sun and gets her skin checked four times a year.
Smith was Black and the rate of incidence of skin cancer in black people is less than it is in white people. Thus, Smith was not concerned about getting skin cancer. The American Cancer Society says that the risk of getting skin cancer is 20 times higher in white people than it is in dark people.
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However, health experts warn people of all skin colors about the disease. As per the American Academy of Dermatology Association, “People of all colors, including those with brown and black skin, get skin cancer. Even if you never sunburn, you can get the disease.”
Skin cancer is often in a late stage when it develops in people of color. This can be deadly when the person has melanoma, a type of skin disease that can spread quickly.
Warning signs you need to watch for skin cancer
- Self-examining your skin regularly is important.
- Always check for dark spots, which are growing in size, bleeding, or changing their appearance.
- Check for sores and wounds that do not heal quickly.
- Do not ignore the patch of skin that feels rough and dry.
- Check for dark skin or darker lines under nails.
- Regularly check the membranes lining your mouth, nose, and private parts.