Perspective from Maritza Perez, MD
Disclosures: Adamson reports he serves as a member of the American Academy of Dermatology Task Force on Skin Cancer and Skin of Color. Lopes reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
December 28, 2020
4 min read
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UV exposure may not increase melanoma risk in skin of color

Perspective from Maritza Perez, MD
Disclosures: Adamson reports he serves as a member of the American Academy of Dermatology Task Force on Skin Cancer and Skin of Color. Lopes reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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Melanoma development in skin of color may not be exacerbated by UV exposure, according to a study published in JAMA Dermatology.

“Melanoma incidence is much lower among people with skin of color; however, melanoma is often diagnosed at later stages with resulting lower survival rates,” Fabiana C. P. S. Lopes, MD, of the division of dermatology, department of internal medicine, Dell Medical School, The University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues wrote. “Numerous studies, including meta-analyses, have consistently demonstrated that increasing UV exposure is associated with higher rates of melanoma. However, much of the work demonstrating this association has been conducted exclusively in fair-skinned populations.”

Melanoma development in skin of color may not be exacerbated by UV exposure, according to a study published in JAMA Dermatology.

The systematic review, using the PubMed, Cochrane and Web of Science databases, included peer-reviewed original studies that analyzed UV exposure as a risk factor for cutaneous melanoma in people with skin of color.

“People with skin of color constitute a wide range of racial and ethnic groups with varying melanin concentrations and varying susceptibility to UV-induced skin damage,” the authors wrote.

Adewole S. Adamson

All races, ethnicities and tanning abilities except for non-Hispanic white individuals were included.

Thirteen studies met the criteria for inclusion, including seven ecological studies, five cohort studies and one case-control study.

Of the 13 studies, 11 showed no association between UV exposure and melanoma in skin of color. One showed a small positive relationship between UV exposure and cutaneous melanoma in Black male subjects, while one showed a weak association in Hispanic male subjects.

“Patients of color that develop melanoma may unnecessarily blame themselves for not wearing sunscreen, which has never shown to improve melanoma-related outcomes in people with skin of color,” Adewole S. Adamson, MD, MPP, corresponding study author, told Healio. “The way to reduce melanoma-associated disparities in people with skin of color should focus on education and improving access to high-quality health care, not UV protection.”

One caveat to this study, however, is that protection from UV exposure may have benefits for other disorders, including photoaging, melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, according to Adamson.

“Our findings do not include people that may be at high risk, such as those with compromised immune systems,” he said.