Yes, this is true. While people with a fair complexion—and a history of burning when out in the sun—are at high risk of cancer, any person (including those with darker skin) can develop skin cancer.
I have dark skin and have never worried about skin cancer, but a friend says anyone can get it. Is this true?
Why does exposure to the sun cause skin cancer?
Studies of cells exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light show that it can penetrate the skin, causing DNA damage to the cells and suppressing the skin’s immune function (which fights off illness and disease). Often the body is unable to repair this damage—and the cells begin to mutate, dividing and growing in an uncontrolled way. This eventually forms a tumor.
What can I expect from a full-body mole check?
Expect that your office visit will last about 10 to 15 minutes. This will include a head-to-toe skin exam (you will be asked to undress and wear an office gown) by the dermatologist, accompanied by a medical assistant. The dermatologist will inspect your entire body visually and with a special medial light and magnifying instrument, including on your scalp and between your toes (two hard-to-see places that most people don’t realize skin cancer can occur).
During your visit is a great time to ask about any spots or growths you’re worried about. If the dermatologist finds anything suspicious, he’ll numb the area with a small shot. Then he’ll remove a sliver of tissue to be biopsied by a pathologist at a lab. If the tissue comes back negative, the area is not cancerous. If positive, the dermatologist will discuss next steps with you.