While there is a common perception that skin pigmentation is protective against skin cancer, even individuals with the most pigmented skin can still develop these conditions, said Edmonton-based dermatologist Dr. Jaggi Rao. The incidence and relative risk of specific sub-types and their presentations differ in different ethnic groups from those of Caucasians, however, he said.
Dr. Rao is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Alberta, and is a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Association of Aesthetics Medicine (CAAM). He spoke about the incidence and presentation of skin cancer in skin of colour at the third annual Skin Spectrum Summit in Vancouver on May 27, 2017.
“Skin cancer in ethnic skin, compared to Caucasian patients, is not as common,” said Dr. Rao. “We do not see it as often [in darkly pigmented skin], but when we do see it, it often presents quite atypically. We also see that they present at a more advanced stage.”