Skin cancer rising amongst Hispanic and Asian women

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The American Academy of Dermatology presented a new study recently that appears to indicate that Hispanic and Asian women may have an increased risk of developing specific types of skin cancer. These include non-melanomas such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.

What is Skin Cancer?

Most non-melanoma types will usually develop on sun-exposed areas of skin such as the face, ears and the backs of hands, but will rarely spread to other places. The main treatment is to have them removed. While this means they are less harmful in the long term, these skin cancer types can still cause scarring after removal. Squamous Cell Carcinoma has been known to spread however and can be fatal.

The researchers looked at five years’ worth of data featuring the detail of 4,000 people and found that these types of skin cancers usually appear in white men. However, when it comes to Hispanics and Asians this type occurs mostly in women. Additionally, those women tended to be younger at diagnosis if they were Hispanic (average age of 62), compared to Asians at 70 and Caucasian at 66.

Not only is this less deadly form of skin cancer rising – but a study in 2013 found that there has been a 19% rise in the more serious forms of melanoma among Hispanics over the last 20 years.

So, what might be causing this increase in skin cancers among these ethnicities?

The researchers suggested that there may have been an increase in the numbers of lighter brown-skinned people seeking tanning treatments due to societal pressures. In other words, these women believe that they look better if they are tanned. For Asian women, the traditional beauty standard used to be fair skin – however that ideal appears to have shifted for women who have moved to a more westernized environment.

Skin cancer symptoms: what to look out for

Not only that, but these groups of people haven’t received the same messages regarding sun protection as those people with very fair skin. Or they may simply think that their brown skin gives them more protection from the sun. A point that the researchers make clear is not true.

The American Academy offers the same advice that we do – if you are tanning your skin, you should stop and if you see any skin cancer symptoms such as an unusual mole, you should have it checked. Your skin tone does not afford you any special protection when it comes to tanning.

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