Skin cancer on people of color is harder to detect, doctors warn

While esthetician Kimberly Blackmon of Glowmour Beauty in Tampa gave her client a relaxing facial, she also checked for any suspicious spots.

The goal is to differentiate what's a pimple, what's a mole, or what could be melanoma.

"While I'm cleansing, I can feel if there's any raised surfaces or bumps anything that's abnormal. When I'm looking at spots, you want to look for spots that have irregular shapes. Typically when they don't have that smooth surface, that's when we tell them, ‘Hey these are things you may want to check with your doctor,’" explained Blackmon.

Doctors say skin cancer in people of color can show up in unexpected places.

"In darker skin types – especially Black, Hispanic – the most common type of melanoma is not localized in sun-exposed areas. Usually it's in the palms or soles, so it's not common to be looking at the soles of your feet or between your toes, but those are areas that need to be examined. Melanoma in darker skin colors is usually diagnosed as a later phase so the prognosis is poorer," shared Dr. Lucia Seminario-Vidal.

Blackmon said the people of color tend to notice changes in their skin when they get older, as their skin starts thinning out. Women of color also have a hard time seeing different colors in their skin because potentially serious changes look similar to hyperpigmentation, according to Blackmon.

Actress Kerry Washington is bringing awareness about skin cancer. She teamed up with Neutrogena for a documentary called "In The Sun," sending a message that skin cancer can affect all ages and ethnicities.

"For people of color, we weren't really taught to wear sunscreen and for us it's very important that we wear sunscreen. Especially living in Florida; it's super hot, the sun is always beaming. You may not even realize the UV-A, UV-B rays that we're actually taking in," explained Blackmon.

"In our community, we are not always aware of the protocol of taking care of our skin and it's something that shouldn't be taken as lightly as it is because we should have proper skin care just like anyone else," added Calloway.

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