Skin cancer and photoprotection in people of color: a review and recommendations for physicians and the public

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Apr;70(4):748-762. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2013.11.038. Epub 2014 Jan 28.


Skin cancer is less prevalent in people of color than in the white population. However, when skin cancer occurs in non-whites, it often presents at a more advanced stage, and thus the prognosis is worse compared with white patients. The increased morbidity and mortality associated with skin cancer in patients of color compared with white patients may be because of the lack of awareness, diagnoses at a more advanced stage, and socioeconomic factors such as access to care barriers. Physician promotion of skin cancer prevention strategies for all patients, regardless of ethnic background and socioeconomic status, can lead to timely diagnosis and treatment. Public education campaigns should be expanded to target communities of color to promote self-skin examination and stress importance of photoprotection, avoidance of tanning bed use, and early skin cancer detection and treatment. These measures should result in reduction or earlier detection of cutaneous malignancies in all communities. Furthermore, promotion of photoprotection practices may reduce other adverse effects of ultraviolet exposure including photoaging and ultraviolet-related disorders of pigmentation.

Keywords: Bowen disease; Merkel cell carcinoma; basal cell carcinoma; dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans; dyspigmentation; melanoma; mycosis fungoides; people of color; photoprotection; radiation; skin cancer; skin of color; squamous cell carcinoma; sun protection; sunscreen; ultraviolet.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asian / statistics & numerical data
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / prevention & control
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma / prevention & control
  • Physician's Role
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Primary Prevention / organization & administration
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Skin Pigmentation*
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use*
  • United States


  • Sunscreening Agents