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Melanoma Often Spotted Later Among Blacks, Hispanics

Posted: June 20, 2006

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This is a public health issue, Kisner said. "Greater awareness is needed both by doctors and patients. Awareness by patients and health-care providers can, hopefully, turn that tide and lead to the same improvement in survival that has been demonstrated in white populations."

Dr. Jeffrey C. Salomon, an assistant clinical professor of plastic surgery at Yale University School of Medicine, agreed that it's important to educate blacks and Hispanics about the risk of melanoma.

"Clearly the awareness of melanoma risk in dark-skinned populations is less than in fair-skinned, sunburn-prone people. More could and should be done to raise the awareness that melanoma is not a disease exclusively of Caucasians," he said.

"Pigmentary changes on soles of feet, on palms, and under nails may be the only early warning sign of trouble in dark-skinned people," Salomon said. "This message needs to be sent out to people at risk. You can never make a diagnosis without thinking of it."

But another doctor thinks that since melanoma is largely a disease that strikes Causasians, it might be unwise to divert too many health-care dollars from education programs for whites.