Certain racial groups, the elderly, and the less educated believed their chances for getting skin cancer are low, according to survey results.
Using the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) as an assessment tool, investigators asked 1,246 Hispanic (12.9%), black (9.6%), and white (77.5%) men and women (64.4% of all respondents) their thoughts about skin cancer (SC). White and blacks were more likely than Hispanics to have at least a high school education.
The participants were presented with statements such as “It seems like everything causes skin cancer” and “There are so many different recommendations about preventing skin cancer that it’s hard to know which ones to follow.” Blacks were less likely than Hispanics and whites to agree with the first statement (P=.0452); whites were less likely to agree with the second statement than Hispanics or blacks (P<.0001 and P=.0143, respectively).
Blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to believe SC is painful, yet blacks were least likely to worry about developing the disease (P=.0033).
Participants aged 75 years and older (10.8% of those surveyed) also were not as worried about getting SC (P=.0002), and they often believed it could not be prevented anyway (P=.0096).
White participants (P=.0009) were most likely to feel that skin examinations were needed for early detection of SC, whereas blacks (P=.0414) and Hispanics (P<.0001) were more apt to feel that not much could be done to prevent the disease.
Women were more likely than men to be concerned about SC (P=.0024). Men and women with less education thought SC had a low 5-year survival rate (P≤.0129).
Those who earned $75,000 or more annually were more likely to feel their future risk for SC was low (P=.0343), and they were less worried about developing SC (P=.0176).
The investigators noted that most blacks were more aware of their lower risk for SC and this affected their opinion about developing the disease. Like blacks, Hispanics have a lower incidence of SC, but both blacks and Hispanics have higher morbidity and mortality rates than whites.
“ … changing thoughts and attitudes regarding SC before it occurs through improved public education can increase patients’ awareness and prevention behaviors thereby reducing the disparity, morbidity, and mortality of SC in at-risk populations,” researchers wrote.