Doctors: Minorities need to be checking monthly for skin cancer - WSMV Channel 4

Doctors: Minorities need to be checking monthly for skin cancer

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The message from doctors is that everyone can get skin cancer.

No matter what shade you are your body does not produce natural sun protection factor, or SPF.

"I know I should be aware of that because that's how my mother started with a red spot," said Karina Ronia who recently started checking her skin for changes to spots or freckles.

"My mother had a protuberance under her eye," said Karina.

But for years she was reluctant to self check for skin cancer even after her own mother was diagnosed with carcinoma.

"I do I do love to tan," Karina admits. "We don't think we are at risk."

That's the exact perception many cancer specialists like Maria Kuklinski want to change in populations of ethnic color.

"Everyone needs protection from the sun," said Kuklinski, the prevention and early detention program manager for the Novant Cancer Center.

"The sun it's cumulative so if you are tanning over the years what happens is it sets you up for greater risk of developing skin cancer."

Researchers at the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say more than three-quarters of Hispanics patients in North Carolina aren't performing skin self-exams to detect possible skin cancers. They believe more education is needed.

"Starting with the physicians to go ahead and talk about skin cancer," added Kuklinski.

"We talk about breast cancer all the time, we talk about nutrition and diabetes but we don't talk about skin cancer," said Karina.

And while the study says fewer minorities develop skin cancer a larger number of them die of the disease in comparison to other demographics.

Experts suggest it s because skin cancer is diagnosed in much later stages.

"People are not getting checked," waned Kuklinski. 

And early detection remains key.

"With melanoma and skin cancers if we diagnose them pretty early on we can go ahead and get those treated and we can cure them," said Kuklinski. 

A step Karina plans to take to her community.

"So I am going to start spreading the word," said Karina. 

Prevention is one key and detection is another.

Doctors say minorities should perform self checks on the entire body one a month.

Check for new moles or growth and appearance in old moles.

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