May 3, 2017 | Stephen Fine, Founder and President
Melanoma and the Hispanic and Latino Communities
During May, which is Melanoma Awareness Month, we’d like to occasionally revisit and expand on topics that have been briefly mentioned before. With particular regard for those that highlight how (and that) melanoma directly affects different people.
Melanoma is Not Exclusive to Caucasians
For those who work to spread melanoma education and awareness, one of the largest (and most frustrating) obstacles to hurdle is the misconception that the disease only affects Caucasians. To some degree, it impacts every single race on Earth. Today, however, we’ll focus on the Hispanic and Latino communities.
By comparison, the risk to Hispanics and Latinos of developing melanoma is about 20% of the risk to the rest of the U.S. population. Unfortunately, however, research has shown there to be a disproportionate information gap on the subject within those communities. What’s worse, when melanoma(s) appear on an Hispanic person, they’re usually already at a more advanced state than those of their Caucasian counterparts.
That is not a good combination, because with melanoma speed of diagnosis is vital. In fact, it means everything. It can nearly always be cured if treated during its earliest stages, but the risk of it turning fatal steadily and significantly increases as time goes by.
The following direct quote from the cited Jamanetwork.com source article linked below goes into greater detail on some melanoma differences between Hispanics and Caucasians:
“…Latino patients in the United States more often present with tumors thicker than 1 mm (34.5% vs 24.9%), further advanced disease…greater regional involvement (12.4% vs 8.3%), and more distant disease (6.6% vs 3.6%), all of which result in greater mortality. The present study of skin self-examination (SSE) among Latinos extends the reach of this intervention, the effectiveness of which has already been demonstrated in a randomized clinical trial of a more general population, and aligns the scoring of features by participants and the dermatologist.”
We’ve included the latter part of that quote because it mentions skin self-examination (SSE); an activity of tremendous importance.
Each month, with the help of a trusted friend or loved one, make sure to check every inch of your skin for any new, odd-looking moles; or any changes to old ones. This includes the scalp, inside the mouth, in and around the ears, and under finger and toenails.
If you are a member of the Hispanic community, or close to those who are, it would be of immense help to everyone to spread this information as far and wide as possible.
Education is one of the strongest weapons we humans have in our arsenal to fight off melanoma. We all need to have as much of it as we can. After all, we’re all in this together.