The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal

MAY 2014

The 2012 edition of The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal features medically reviewed, reader-friendly articles such as tanning, the increasing incidence of skin cancer diagnoses among young women, & the prevalence of melanoma among white males over 50.

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nly pale-skinned, blue-eyed Caucasians get skin cancer. That's a misconception many Hispanics in the US share. Just ask actress Eva Longoria. Speaking out in May 2013 on behalf of L'Oreal Paris and the Melanoma Research Alliance, she said: "Sometimes Latinas like myself, and other women of color, have this false perception that we aren't at risk for skin cancer, when in fact. . . melanoma is increasing for us and can be more deadly." Lifestyle W hile Hispanics have lower skin cancer rates than non-Hispanic whites, their incidence of the disease has been soaring. From 1992 to 2008, melanoma cases in Hispanics in the US rose by 19 percent. 1 Melanoma is also being diagnosed in Hispanics at younger ages and at later stages, when it is deadlier. As the US Hispanic population has skyrocketed in recent years, increasing by 43 percent from 2000 to 2010, the need to educate this very diverse community – and their health care providers – on skin cancer prevention and detection has become critical. 1 But barriers exist: believing they are immune to skin cancer, too many Hispanics continue to practice risky behaviors, such as not wearing sunscreen, not seeking shade, and using tanning beds. For lower income Hispanics, lack of access to medical care contributes to the problem, leaving them with lower skin cancer awareness; this can lead to later diagnosis. A Wide Range of Skin Types H ispanics may think of themselves as a darker-skinned peo- ple, but they encompass a broad range of skin types, from very dark Type VI skin to very light Type I skin. All of those skin types are at risk for skin cancer. Light-skinned individuals are at higher risk because they have less melanin in their skin, and melanin serves as a partial natural barrier against UV rays. But having more melanin does not make one immune to sun damage or skin cancer. Even the dark- est skin provides a natural sun protection factor (SPF) of less than 15, the minimum SPF for an efective sunscreen. Prey to All Major Skin Cancers A s in Caucasians, the most common form of skin cancer in Hispanics is basal cell carcinoma (BCC), found most frequently on the face and neck because these areas receive the most sun exposure. A study from Howard University found that 89 percent of BCCs on naturally brown skin oc- cur on the head or neck. 2,3 Though BCCs rarely metastasize, Hispanic patients who develop them are more likely to have multiple lesions, either at frst diagnosis or in ensuing years. Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) are the second most As skin cancer rates rise in Hispanics, many remain unaware they are at risk. "That's Not Our Disease." Adelle T. Quintana, MD 43

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