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Skin Cancer Awareness Lowest Among Minorities

SunBuddy - Back Lotion Applicator - Skin Cancer Awareness

A new study lead by Dorota Z. Korta, of the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, suggests that Black, Hispanic people, and other minorities tend to know less about skin cancer than whites. For the study, Korta and her colleagues surveyed 152 people who visited a dermatology clinic at a New York City public hospital.

Although the sample size for the study is small, the findings are congruent to other research that shows minorities with skin cancer tend to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage and have lower chances of survival than whites. The study was published online on the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology website.

Dr. Darrell Rigel, former president of the American Academy of Dermatology said “People of all races are equally at risk of getting skin cancer on the palms of their hands or soles of their feet - but those aren't common places for sun exposure… For other parts of the body, the chances are much less (among minorities), but you can still get it. African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities with darker skin than whites are less likely to realize that they're at risk for skin cancer.”

The Study

Many respondents were unaware of the warning signs of skin cancer: (A) asymmetry, (B) border, (C) color, (D) diameter and (E) evolving nature of a mole.

50 percent of white survey respondents answered correctly that an asymmetrical shape is a characteristic of melanoma, compared to 12 percent of minority respondents. Most other responded “I don’t know.”

71 percent of white survey respondents correctly identified changes in the size or shape of moles over time as a characteristic of melanoma, compared to 29 percent of minority respondents

Of all the participants, 16 percent had undergone a total body skin examination by a doctor to check for skin cancer. Fifteen percent said they performed self-exams for skin cancer but only 11 percent had ever been taught by a health care practitioner how to look for cancer.

Survey respondents were also asked about their beliefs regarding the purpose of skin cancer screening, and the majority of them - whites and minorities alike - incorrectly stated that skin cancer screenings help prevent the disease. The correct response is that skin cancer screenings reduce the risk of death from skin cancer.