Skin Cancer in Latin American Population


Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent types of cancer in the United States. Moreover, the statistics show that the majority of patients have melanomas of the skin while non-epithelial skin cancers make up only 7% of those tracked by central cancer registries (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). The disease has a specific gender and race/ethnicity disparities. Thus, the rate of new skin cancer cases among males is 28.1 whole among females it is 17.8 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018).

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As for racial/ethnic disparities, Whites make up the most affected population group with a skin cancer rate of 25.1. Latin or Hispanic American population has the rate of new cancer cases of 4.4 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). Nevertheless, despite comparatively low incidence, Latin Americans are at a high risk of mortality from skin cancer due to late diagnosing. This paper analyzes the prevalence of skin cancer among Latin Americans, focuses on the significance of this problem, and suggests opportunities for improvement.

Skin Cancer among Latin Americans

While Latin Americans are traditionally considered to be at low risk of sun burns and skin cancer, they are still affected by this disease. As of 2015, the rate of new cancer cases among the Hispanic population was 4.4 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). It means that 1,740 individuals out of 56,332,267 Latin Americans in the United States were diagnosed with skin cancer during a year. Gender disparity is similar to the general one throughout the country, which means that a higher percentage of men is affected by skin cancer compared to women. Moreover, Hispanic males are at the highest risk of lethal outcomes in the case of melanoma.

Thus, for the period from 2008 to 2012, 20.8% of Hispanic males diagnosed with melanoma died because of their disease compared to 13.9% of white males and 13.3% of Hispanic females (Perez, 2016). On the whole, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma for Hispanics is 0.58% (1 in 172) (American Cancer Society, 2018). Still, the development of skin cancer depends on multiple factors.

Significance of the Problem

The problem of cancer treatment is a burning concern of contemporary health science. One of the issues that result in high cancer mortality is the late detection of the disease. As for cutaneous melanoma, it is a cause of about 10,000 deaths in the United States a year (Harvey, Oldfield, Chen, & Eschbach, 2016). The disease has limited treatment options during the advanced stage and is characterized by poor patient prognosis.

The problem is particularly significant for the Hispanic population due to some reasons. First of all, although the incidence of skin cancer is relatively low among Latin Americans, it is characterizes by late detection (Harvey et al., 2016). Thus, Hispanics diagnosed with melanoma are 2.4 times more likely to have stage III of the disease, and 3.64 times more likely to have distant metastases compared to non-Hispanic Whites (Harvey et al., 2016). According to Perez (2016), 72% of Hispanic patients with melanoma are diagnosed when cancer can still be localized and cured compared to 84% of Whites.

There are diverse factors that have an impact on the late detection of skin cancer among Latino population representatives in America. For example, this racial minority may lack awareness and knowledge about cancer on the whole and skin cancer, in particular, demonstrate lower rates of self-examinations, as well as a physician, performed skin examinations, and certain differences in tumor biology typical of this ethnicity (Harvey et al., 2016).

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Finally, different studies provide evidence of worse outcomes of melanoma for Hispanics compared to other population groups. On the whole, the issue of skin cancer among Latino Americans is a significant problem and an important social concern because Latinos make the most rapidly growing population group in the United States. Thus, because Hispanics are expected to make up 30% of the American population by 2060 and the incidence of melanoma within this demographic group has risen by 20% in the past two decades, the problem of skin cancer outcomes among Hispanics can become a national concern (Perez, 2016).

Risk Factors for Skin Cancer among Latino Americans

There are diverse factors that increase the risk of skin cancer development that are both general and characteristic of Latino Americans. For example, some general determinants that can lead to skin cancer are a lighter natural skin color; family or personal history of skin cancer; frequent and lasting exposure to the sun during work or leisure activities; a history of sunburns (early in life in particular), having skin that is easily affected by burns, freckles, reddens; blue or green eyes; and blond or red hair (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018).

Speaking about factors that are typical of Latino Americans, their attitude, lifestyle, and access to care can be mentioned. The attitude and lifestyle are related to protection from exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which is one of the most preventable skin cancer risk factors (American Academy of Dermatology, 2017). This opportunity is frequently neglected by people who have darker skin tones such as Hispanics. Therefore, these individuals do not take any measures to protect their skin from the harmful influence and increase the risk of skin cancer development. As for care availability, it is important to consider the fact that many Hispanic families lack access to dermatologic care due to the low insurance rate.

Therefore, the representatives of this population group are less likely to visit a dermatologist to have a skin cancer evaluation or treatment for minor dermatologic problems (American Academy of Dermatology, 2017). It results in diagnosing skin cancer in advanced stages and unfavorable prognosis. Early diagnosis is particularly important with melanoma because this type of skin cancer has a proven five-year survival rate of 98% in case the disease is revealed and treated before it reached the lymph nodes.


On the whole, skin cancer is a global problem and a burden for health care. Still, some population groups such as Latino Americans need particular attention in the context of this disease due to certain factors. Thus, despite the relatively low incidence of skin cancer, Latinos demonstrate the highest mortality rate. One of the major reasons for unfavorable skin cancer outcomes within this population group is late detection when treatment is the least effective.

This situation is partially explained by the fact that Hispanics are uninsured or underinsured and do not receive the necessary access to care. Moreover, this population group frequently neglects protective measures such as ultraviolet protection thus increasing the risk of developing skin cancer. Consequently, there is a need for interventions with the potential to change the attitude and lifestyle of Latino Americans to preventive measures and improve the availability of care facilities.


American Academy of Dermatology. (2017). Attitude, lifestyle may contribute to skin cancer risk among Latinos. Web.

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American Cancer Society. (2018). Key statistics for melanoma skin cancer. Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Skin cancer statistics. Web.

Harvey, V. M., Oldfield, C. W., Chen, J. T., & Eschbach, K. (2016). Melanoma disparities among US Hispanics: Use of the social-ecological model to contextualize reasons for inequitable outcomes and frame a research agenda. Journal of Skin Cancer, 2016, 1-9. Web.

Perez, M. I. (2016). Hispanics get skin cancer, too. Skin Cancer Foundation. Web.

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