(CNN) – More than three million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year, making it the most common type of cancer. Many people with darker skin tone may think they aren’t at risk; however skin cancer can strike anyone.
For Sonya Perry, worrying about skin cancer was low on her list of priorities, “I took no precautions as a child growing up and even as a young adult to protect myself from the sun.”
That didn’t change, even when she found an odd spot under her nail about eight years ago. What was thought to be an abnormality eventually was determined to be skin cancer and in Sonya’s case, melanoma.
Melanoma forms in the cells that make pigment called melanin, which gives skin its color and may protect it from damage from ultra violet rays, which is why people with darker skin are less likely to get skin cancer than those with lighter complexions.
“Though it is less common it does appear to be more deadly in that population in the sense if you look at survival for melanoma in African Americans it’s much lower than if you look at the Caucasian population and they do tend to present with more advanced disease than Caucasian patients,” said Dr. Ragini Kudchadkar.
“I just want everyone to understand it’s not so much sun related it not because you’re African American or Caucasian, it’s because it’s cancer and it can effect anyone, anytime,” Perry continued.
Experts recommend routine skin cancer screening for people with a family history of the disease as well as those with atypical moles.
Copyright CNN 2015