But Otis Brawley, M.D, medical oncologist, cancer epidemiologist and chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, offers a contrasting view. He said many dark-skinned blacks do not worry about protecting their arms, legs and trunk from the sun and that might not be a bad thing.
“In my 25-year career, I have almost never seen melanoma in blacks except on the soles of the feet, palms of the hands, nail beds and sometimes on the scalp,” Brawley said. “One problem I see with the study is that a significant number of melanoma cases, when left alone, do not progress. However, we don’t have a test that says which melanoma, if left alone, will regress or go away.”
Still, Brawley said he gives the same advice to light-skinned blacks as he does to white patients.
“When people with a light complexion type go out in the sun, they need to use sun protection to avoid getting sunburned.”
Pichon said that the next steps are to follow up on the study finding, including deeper investigations of a larger sample of the African-American community.
“Next steps would include conducting interviews or focus groups with African Americans to explore cultural and historical influences on sun protection behavior.”