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Health Spotlight: New guidelines on sunscreen for darker skin

Health Spotlight: New guidelines on sunscreen for darker skin

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — One in five people in the U.S. will develop skin cancer by the time they are 70 years old, making it the most common type of cancer.

Even though stats show fair-skinned people are more likely to develop skin cancer, doctors say darker-skinned people are more likely to die from it.

Summer is filled with lots of fun in the sun.

Andrew Pecora, MD from Oncologist Hackensack University Medical Center, said, “Excess sun exposure can lead to skin cancers of which melanoma is one.”

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and affects some people more than others.

“We see melanoma more commonly in fair-skinned people who don’t have a lot of pigment to protect themselves from the ultraviolet radiation of the sun,” Pecora said.

But that doesn’t mean people with darker skin tones cannot get it. Even though they have a lower risk of getting skin cancer, by the time most African Americans get a diagnosis, it has already spread to other parts of their body.

The five-year survival rate for black skin cancer patients is 70%, while it’s 94% for white patients. Doctors say the key to higher survival rates is detecting it before the cancer spreads

“If you add metastatic melanoma, almost 100% of people died,” Pecora said.

There are ways people with darker skin can protect themselves from ever getting skin cancer in the first place. Recently, the American Academy of Dermatology released recommendations that include telling people with darker complexions to use tinted mineral sunscreen with an SPF of 30.

The tint from the sunscreen helps to block out more light. Other options: wearing a hat and ultraviolet protection clothing. Just make sure you’re protected while having fun in the sun.

In the past, sunscreen companies would largely market products to fair-skinned people. But today, more brands are emerging with sunscreen options for different complexions, including Neutrogena’s line of tinted-face sunscreens and the launch of the company Black Girl Sunscreen.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.