Melanoma in White Americans

2009_skin_race_incidence

As you can all see from the graph above, both men and women of the Caucasian race are more prone to developing skin cancer, or melanomas. Today, more people have skin cancer than all of the other cancers combined, and one in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some time in their life. Melanocytes, the cells that give our skin its pigmentation, develop melanomas and can form benign growths called moles. Whites are more likely to develop this cancer because our ancestors have adapted to a dry and dark climate. They were not used to being exposed to the sun for long hours at a time. Because of this, our skin does have enough melanin to protect us from harmful sun rays. This fact alone is the reason why whites are more prone to skin cancer than any other race. In my opinion however, it has nothing to do with what race you identify yourself with. It has everything to do with the pigmentation of your skin. A person who identifies themselves as an African American, for example, may have a lighter pigmentation than others of the African American descent. Just because they identify as an African American does not mean that they are completely protected from the sun and that they could never get skin cancer. They may easily develop this cancer if exposed in the sun to often, depending on their pigmentation. As a matter of fact, I chose to research this disease because my grandpa had actually passed away from skin cancer. I wanted to see the relationship between this disease and our skin color. The interesting part of this however, is that he was actually from African American descent and he had very dark skin. Now if he was able to develop this cancer, then think how easily it would be for whites to develop this cancer. Its sad to think of it that way, but having a light pigmentation makes you very prone to obtaining skin cancer.

 

Works cited

Cancer.org. “What is skin cancer?.” 2012. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer-melanoma/moreinformation/skincancerpreventionandearlydetection/skin-cancer-prevention-and-early-detection-what-is-skin-cancer?gclid=CKGWktncp7gCFexDMgod3XMA0Q (accessed 11 Jul 2013).

Cdc.gov. “CDC – Skin Cancer Rates by Race and Ethnicity.” 1999. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/race.htm (accessed 11 Jul 2013).

Skincancer.org. “Skin Cancer Facts – SkinCancer.org.” 1992. http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts#ethnicity (accessed 11 Jul 2013).

 

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Taylor Young says:

    Hi Cheyenne—
    Now I know that melanoma is extremely prominent within the Caucasian community, but I had no idea that more people have skin cancer than any other type of cancer combined! You also pointed out that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their life. I find this sad, yet not that difficult to believe. We’re exposed to the sun and UV rays almost every day. It makes sense that at some point we would eventually obtain skin cancer, particularly if you do not take the proper steps towards sun protection like sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, etc.
    I agree with you when you said that melanoma had nothing to do with race. It is about how you identify yourself. Also I think social and cultural influences play a large role in this disease. Watching any tv show or looking at any magazine you always see tan models/actors/actresses. I think from a young age, especially for girls, being tan and maintaining that tan is seen as a necessary thing. Taking precautionary steps could prove to be a life saver when it comes to melanoma. So, if you can, try to avoid tanning salons and always remember to put sun protection on!

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