Latest research from the US suggests that an increased awareness of skin cancer in minorities should go hand-in-hand with greater use of sun protection.
According to lead researcher Dr. Diane Jackson-Richards, a dermatologist at the Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan, one of the biggest obstacles to getting the right message out is to convince minorities that they are not at low risk of developing skin cancer.
Research has shown that minorities are often diagnosed at a more advanced stage of skin cancer, compared to their Caucasian counterparts, which invariably leads to a lower chances of survival.
Where's the sunscreen?
Perhaps the least known piece of information is that squamous cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer among African Americans and Asian Indians, and the second most common skin cancer in Hispanics, East Asians and Caucasians.
Indeed, one of the problems that Dr. Jackson Richards believes is synonymous with this problem is the fact that in minority communities, with documented evidence of fewer sunscreen products being available in Hispanic communities than in non-Hispanic communities.
"We need to intensify our 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," says Dr. Jackson-Richards, director of Henry Ford's Multicultural Dermatology Clinic in Detroit.
Skin color should not determine sunscreen use
Considering that the number one cause of squamous cell carcinoma is direct exposure to UV rays through sunlight, the researchers believe that raising awareness of sun protection measures in minorities who believe they are not vulnerable to the risk is paramount.
Dr. Jackson Richards presented the findings of the research today at a presentation entitled "Skin of Color" at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in Denver, Colorado.
In the presentation she is expected to talk about the importance of raising awareness about the early signs of skin cancer, as well educating minorities about how to prevent it, with an emphasis on good sun protection.
"We must educate African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities that prevention guidelines are effective at reducing their risk of skin cancer," she said.