Experts want to raise awareness of skin cancer risks for people of color

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (NBC) – Warnings about the risk of skin cancer are often directed toward people who are fair-skinned.

But now there is a new effort underway to make sure people of color know they can be affected by it too.

Seventeen-year old Kai and her family are getting ready to celebrate her high school graduation.

A major accomplishment by itself, but even more so given a life threatening diagnosis she received when she was just nine years old.

“I had a mole on the right side of my face and it started changing so I told my mom about it,” said Kai Dunbar, cancer survivor.

Kai’s mom Kimberly Dunbar said, “It started to raise and it started to bleed and itch.”

“They x-rayed it and they told me it was cancer.”

It was stage three skin cancer.

The news stunned kai’s mom.

“We never thought that this was melanoma,” Kai mother said.

“It never crossed our mind because she never played outside a lot.  We were never out in the sun so this was a fluke.”

According to the centers for disease control, incidents of skin cancer among blacks, Hispanics and Asians are lower than in whites.

But research shows people of color with cancer tend to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage leading to lower survival chances than whites.

“Right now, I’m in remission.  I go once a year for check-ups, x-rays, blood draws.”

Kai and her family grateful for a positive outcome and hoping others get the message.

“A lot of people think that you won’t get it because of your skin color, but yes you can get it,” Kai’s mother said.

“You should still get checked.  You should still watch for changes, watch how, watch how much sun you get when you leave, wear sunscreen, wear long sleeves, hats, protect yourself.”

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