Minorities will have to reevaluate their belief that they are at lower risk for skin cancer. They need to become more aware, is the opinion of Diane Jackson-Richards, Director of Dermatology at the Henry Ford Hospital.
Research indicates that minorities reach a more critical and advanced stage of skin cancer before they are diagnosed. They also have reduced cases of survival compared to Caucasians. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that the most common skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, prevalent in Asian Indians and African Americans. It is the second most appearing skin cancer in East Asians, Hispanics and Caucasians. Jackson-Richards goes on to say, “We need to intensify awareness efforts for minorities so they fully understand the dangers of sun exposure and what they can do to reduce their risk of skin cancer.” She believes that minorities have the wrongful perception that they are inherently at low risk and there is not much that can be done about preventing it.
Jackson-Richards explains that skin cancer is still a significant health concern for the minority population in spite of denials and lack of information. She believes that they need to understand that skin cancer can be cured via early diagnosis and treatment. She covered these issues in a recent presentation called “Skin of Color” during the yearly meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology held in Denver.
Dr. Jackson-Richards stressed that Hispanics, African Americans and all other minorities must be educated to understand that prevention guidelines are effective at lowering skin cancer risks. For example, a lack of sunscreen products is prevalent in most Hispanic communities, where in other communities the opposite is true. Skin cancer ranks as the number one cancer in the US, according to the Foundation. An increased number of new cases are diagnosed every year that top the occurrences of prostrate, breast, colon and lung cancers combined.
Risk factors include multiple moles totaling 50 or more, hereditary occurrences in the family history, prolonged sun exposure and diseases that adversely affect the immune system.
Preventative measures for reducing risk include, avoiding sun exposure during days when the rays are strongest—between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., wearing protective garments like long-sleeved pants and shirts, sunglasses and large hats. Tanning salons should be avoided since the concentrated ultraviolet rays can be especially damaging. Sunscreens with a SPF 30 or a higher rating provide good blockage and should be applied to all areas of the body exposed to the sun, with reapplications every two hours or so. Preventative majors, as well as regular checkups from a dermatologist in New York like Lawrence Jaeger of Advanced Dermatology Associates are crucial to avoiding skin issues.