Some minorities have been told they cannot contract skin cancer, a study shows it is totally possible. Dorota Z. Korta leads a research team at the Lagone Medical Center in New York. Zorta reports that she and her colleagues find that there is a strong need for education and awareness on melanoma. The cancer definitely affects people of all races.
Dermatology professor and former president of the American Academy of Dermatology Dr. Darrell Rigel was not part of the study, but says regardless race or ethnicity everyone shares the same risk of acquiring skin cancer on the soles feet and on their palms. Rigel says minorities with darker skin than whites are less inclined to believe they are at risk and may not take precautions. He notes that minorities including Blacks and Hispanics acquire cancer on other areas of the body with fewer instances than whites, but it is still possible.
Out of 100,000 melanoma diagnoses per year, between one and five is a minority. In cases of Caucasians, 20 white women and 32 white men are diagnosed annually. When minorities are diagnosed with skin cancer it tends to be in advanced stages and with a lower survival rate than whites.
During a study in New York City, Korta found awareness for minorities to be extremely low. Minorities were widely unaware of the shape outlining a cancerous mole with only 12 percent answering correctly. The majority responded that they did not know, and did not give the proper answer as, asymmetrical White respondents showed a deeper awareness answering correctly half of the time. Minorities need to be aware that skin cancer exists in all races and backgrounds and a study shows contracting the disease, is totally possible.
In another example, whites were able to properly identify changes in the size and shape of moles as being problematic. They responded correctly at a rate of 71 percent where minorities only answered correctly 29 percent of the time.
The study is supposed to help define gaps in patients level of melanoma knowledge in the U.S. about the ABCDE criterion. The formula serves as a grid for patients to take note of when they encounter skin issues. Many of those taking the survey were unaware of the table which lists the formula ABCDE, asymmetry (A), border (B), color (C), diameter (D) and evolving (E) nature of a mole or other skin mark.
The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reports, eight percent of patients seen at the clinic had been diagnosed with skin cancer previously.
Those surveyed all believed, incorrectly, that screening for skin cancer would help prevent contracting the disease. This was across the board for minorities and whites. While all answered correctly that skin cancer screenings could significantly reduce the risk of death from the disease.
There have been no moves by the U.S. Government to make screening for skin cancer a priority. They report that there is not enough evidence on the potential benefits and harms of skin cancer to warrant a campaign. The study shows skin cancer in minorities is totally possible. Without a thumbs up from the Preventative Task Force, it is up to people to educate themselves on the needed steps to protect themselves. Rigel suggests, avoiding high-noon sun, add sunscreen, hats and other protective clothing. He urges individuals, if they find a mole or growth that changes in appearance or begins to leak, please see a doctor immediately.
By C. Imani Williams