AMA urges sunscreen for everyone, regardless of skin tone
People of all skin colors, including blacks and Hispanics, should wear sunscreen and avoid excessive sun exposure to reduce their skin-cancer risk.
That advice comes from the American Medical Association, which included recommendations for preventing skin cancer among communities of color among new policies adopted at its annual meeting in Chicago this week.
The stance of the physicians' association reflects the facts that skin-cancer incidence is on the rise among blacks and Hispanics, that skin cancer is more likely deadly for blacks than it is for whites, and that many people with dark skin apparently aren't aware of their risk for skin cancer.
According to press materials announcing the new policies, the five-year melanoma survival rate is only 58.8 percent among African Americans, compared to 84.8 percent for Caucasians. The incidence of melanoma among Hispanics has risen to rates comparable to that among whites over the past 15 years, the AMA reports. But Hispanics and African Americans, who may believe that their skin-cancer risk is lower than that of Caucasians, are screened less frequently for skin cancer, the association says.
Under the new policy, the AMA pledges to "support and encourage efforts to increase awareness of skin cancer risks, skin cancer screening, and sun-protective behaviors in communities of color." Those behaviors should include wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, staying out of the sun during peak hours, and getting regular skin examinations.
The American Cancer Society reports that skin cancer is "by far" the most common cancer and that while melanoma accounts for just 5 percent of such cancers, it's responsible for most skin-cancer deaths.
How worried are you about skin cancer? Do you wear sun protection daily? Does the AMA's new policy make you more inclined to do so?
Jennifer LaRue Huget
June 17, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Cancer , General Health , Health Policy
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