As is the case with Caucasians, melanoma is the third most common skin cancer in Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians.
For example, although more than 95% of melanomas are diagnosed in white and light-skinned people, the incidence of melanoma among Latinos has increased at an annual rate of 2.9% in the last 15 years, which is about the same as the 3% annual increase among whites. What’s worse, they are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage of the disease, which unfortunately results in a much lower survival rate.
Among African-Americans, the incidence of melanoma is even lower due to their greater production of the skin pigment called melanin. Indeed, the skin of African-Americans has been calculated to be the equivalent of an SPF 13 sunscreen. Some studies suggest that melanoma in African-Americans is more likely to be caused by genetics, or by job-related hazards, than the sun. One study found a high rate of melanoma among African-American women who worked in the machinery and transportation equipment manufacturing industries, where chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are commonly used.
Other research shows that risk factors such as pre-existing skin conditions, scars, and trauma play a larger role in causing skin cancer than ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Other types of skin cancer are also found in non-white populations. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer among Hispanics and squamous cell carcinoma is the most common in African-Americans.