EYE ON HEALTH: Protecting minorities from skin cancer
The summer break often means time to head to the beach or hit the pool. Protecting your skin and applying sunscreen is crucial.
Dr. Maren Shaw with the Chattanooga Skin and Cancer Clinic says despite the common myth that only Caucasians are at risk for developing skin cancer, that's not the case.
Dr. Shaw says, "Skin cancer is more common in lighter skin types, but it affects all people."
Dr. Shaw says people of all colors, including those with brown and black skin, get skin cancer. Even if you never sunburn, you can still get skin cancer.
A study by the Skin Cancer Foundation shows that more than half, or 63% of African Americans, said they never used sunscreen.
Dr. Shaw says, "The main problem with skin cancer in the minority populations such as African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and Hawaiians is they are often diagnosed at a later stage because they are not often being checked for skin cancer."
Those often include areas you may not necessarily think about.
Dr. Shaw says, "But more importantly people with darker skin may need to check areas that they may not think about having skin cancer, like the soles of their feet and in the scalp."
Dr. Shaw says the most important warning sign is something that doesn't heal and it can last for several months or longer.
The good news is you can find skin cancer early. If found early, most skin cancers, including melanoma, can be cured.
And for anyone who spends time outside, Dr. Shaw says look for warning signs, take time to go see your doctor, and always use sunscreen.
Dr. Shaw says, "Even if you're older, even in your 80's, you've had life-long full exposure. It's never too late to try to protect your skin."
When it comes to protecting your skin, the following advice applies to everyone: use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and re-apply it every two hours even if it says water proof or sweat proof. When it comes to babies they should be protected with shade or hats because you have to be careful what you put on their skin.