Skin Cancer Risks Impact Everybody

Free Skin Screenings Offered in May


(Baton Rouge, La.) Skin cancer is on the rise. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 1.5 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year. Despite common myths, everyone, regardless of skin color, can get skin cancer. Unfortunately, mortality rates remain disproportionately high in darker skinned people due to lack of early detection and later stage diagnosis of the disease.

Dr. John Lyons, chair of Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center’s Skin Cancer Multidisciplinary Care Team and member of Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group, says, “Facts show that while prevention is extremely important, frequent screenings allow for early stage diagnosis. Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate. It can affect any skin color, age or ethnicity.”

Melanin, the pigment that gives the skin and eyes their color, helps protect the skin against sun effects such as skin cancers and premature aging. In African-American skin, melanin provides a sun protection factor (SPF) equivalent to 13.4, compared to 3.4 in white skin. This discrepancy illustrates why skin cancer is more prevalent in Caucasian people, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Even though darker skinned people are more protected from the sun’s rays, people of color are still susceptible to skin cancer. And although skin cancer comprises only two to four percent of all cancers in Chinese and Japanese Asians, the incidence is rising. Similarly, skin cancer represents one to two percent of malignancies in African Americans and Asian Indians.

“Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., but it also extremely treatable when caught early. The five-year survival rate for people whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is typically greater than 90 percent. Those are excellent odds, which underscores the importance of detecting these lesions early before they have spread,” said Dr. Lyons.

During May, which is recognized as National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center is offering free skin cancer screenings. Dr. Lyons recommends screenings especially for those who have had melanoma.

“People with a previous skin cancer history are much more likely to develop additional primary skin cancers compared with the general public, so life-long follow-up is essential for this group,” he said.


Upcoming screenings include:

Saturday, May 4

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

BREC Sherwood Forest Family Center & Park

3140 North Sherwood Forest Blvd.


Thursday, May 16

6 – 7:30 p.m.

Mary Bird Perkins –Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center

4950 Essen Lane


Saturday, May 18

9 – 11 a.m. and 12 – 2 p.m. (Appointment Required)
402 South Range Road, Denham Springs


Screenings are for men and women 18 and older who do not have insurance and have not been screened for skin cancer by a physician in the last 12 months. For more information on screenings, please call (225) 215-1234.



Mary Bird Perkins—Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center is the most comprehensive cancer center in Louisiana offering patients the convenience of receiving high-quality, advanced care close to home. The Cancer Center is part of the National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Centers Program (NCCCP), a group of competitively selected cancer centers that is developing a national model for community cancer care.