Local News

Doctors Urge Skin Cancer Awareness Among African-Americans

Posted May 26, 2003

— Some think those most at risk for

skin cancer

are people with light skin and light-colored hair. The misconception can have deadly consequences.

Two years ago, she noticed a black mark on her foot. Doctors told her it was melanoma.

"I was frightened by that word because it wasn't anything I knew anything about," she said.

Collins said that as an African-American, she never thought she would never get skin cancer.

Dr. David Ollila, an oncologist at the University of North Carolina, said skin cancer is more common among light-skinned people.

"It's the exceptions that we have to worry about," he said.

Ollila said people with darker skin usually get skin cancer on their palms, soles of their feet or nails. It also tends to be more deadly.

"The problem is that in non-Caucasians, the disease tends to be picked up later," he said.

Collins said more African-Americans should hear this information.

"I believe this is a misconception that needs to be changed within the communities of color," she said.

Doctors agree.

"Physicians have never been trained to be as diligent as we probably should be," Ollila said.

Collins said that is why she is sharing her experience. She wants people to realize it can happen to anyone, but there are chances of survival.

"Be aware that there is treatment and there is hope," she said.

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