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Skin cancer education only reaching the educated

A new study from the American Cancer Society shows a decline in the number of deaths caused by melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer.  While the statistics are improving, research shows prevention education is only reaching those with at least 13 years of education.

Only reaching the educated
Since the 1990s the overall melanoma mortality rates among Non-Hispanic Whites has declined, but until now, researchers didn’t know those rates were linked to socioeconomic status.

The study of thousands of death certificates from 26 states shows there was no significant decrease in melanoma deaths among the least educated individuals, irrespective of sex.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to document this education gap in melanoma mortality trends among Non-Hispanic Whites in the U.S.,” said Dr. Vilma Cokkinides, who led the study.

“The reasons for the widening of the educational gap in mortality rates are not yet understood, but we do know the cornerstone of melanoma control is recognizing the signs of melanoma early. Lower socioeconomic status is associated with suboptimal knowledge and awareness of melanoma, inadequate health insurance, and lower rates of skin self-examination or physician screening.”

More on melanoma
A mole, sore or growth on the skin is often the first sign of melanoma.  These kinds of spots need to be looked at by a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.  In some cases surgery is needed to remove the effected area.  Chemotherapy and radiation may also be used to battle this form of skin cancer.

The changes needed
The easiest way to prevent Melanoma is to avoid sun exposure.  This kind of lesson is just one of the many that need to be directed to those at risk.

“This calls for more vigilant primary and secondary prevention education campaigns directed to high-risk individuals and the physicians that care for them,” Cokkinides said. “It’s a call for more education at targeted groups.”