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Miss Universe Dayanara Tores

Photo by: Parker Knight (SupportPDX) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Flickr

There’s a common misconception that people with darker skin tones are immune to skin cancer. However, skin cancer cases are actually on the rise for Hispanics in the U.S. – increasing nearly 20 percent over the last two decades, according to the American Cancer Society.

Just ask Miss Universe 1993, Dayanara Torres, who announced on social media this week she has melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The 41-year-old Puerto Rican beauty queen admitted to ignoring a growing, uneven mole on the back of her knee for many years. The mole exhibited all of the classic symptoms of melanoma.

Melanoma warning signs are often referred to by the popular “ABCD” acronym.

ABCD Rule for Spotting Melanoma

  • Asymmetry- a mole that doesn’t match when divided by an imaginary line down the center
  • Border- the edges of the mole look blurry, irregular, uneven and/or jagged
  • Color- moles that have multiple colors or shades, such as red, blue, tan, white or black
  • Diameter- a mole that is wider than a pencil eraser
  • Evolving- a mole that changes size, shape or color over time.

Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body, but are commonly seen on the neck and face. Men often develop this type of skin cancer on their chest and back, while women see melanomas on the legs. Moffitt skin cancer experts recommend keeping an eye out for:

  • new moles
  • bumps
  • red/flaky patches on your skin
  • sores that aren’t healing
  • moles that have changed in size, shape, color or texture

Monthly self-skin checks are vital to detecting skin cancer early. Don’t forget to examine hard to see areas like your scalp, back, in between your fingers and toes. Common forms of skin cancer have a survival rate higher than 95 percent when detected early. Be aware of changes to your skin and report them to your doctor as soon as possible.