Skin Cancer in Individuals of African, Asian, Latin-American, and American-Indian Descent: Differences in Incidence, Clinical Presentation, and Survival Compared to Caucasians

January 2007 | Volume 6 | Issue 1 | Original Article | 10 | Copyright © January 2007

Katina Byrd-Miles MD, Ella L. Toombs MD, Gary L. Peck MD

Skin cancer most commonly affects Caucasians and rarely affects individuals of African, Asian, Latin-American, and American-Indian descent. Although skin cancer is rare in these groups, the diagnosis may be associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Many factors may account for this discrepancy. Skin cancers in these groups may have atypical presentations. Melanoma usually involves areas not exposed to the sun, including palmoplantar skin and mucosal surfaces with the acral lentiginous melanoma being the most common histologic subtype. Basal cell carcinomas may involve sun-exposed areas such as the head and neck, while squamous cell carcinomas tend to involve unexposed areas in these groups. Because of the low index of suspicion in both the medical community and the ethnic groups, diagnosis is often delayed resulting in an advanced presentation and a worse prognosis.