Education Can Help Address Racial Disparities in Skin Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment, Says Dr Sancy Leachman

Source: AJMC, May 2023

Addressing racial disparities in skin cancer involves education, understanding rates of risk and ethnicity, and knowledge of the different types of melanoma, which makes skin cancer disparities complex to attack, said Sancy Leachman, MD, PhD, professor and chair in the Department of Dermatology and director of the Melanoma Research Program at the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Science University.

There are known racial disparities in skin cancer regarding diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. What is being done or should be done going forward to address these disparities?

The answer to that question: you’ll get as many answers to that as people you ask. The reason for that is because the answer is not completely clear what the right path is to effect that change. We know that the majority of melanomas—by a longshot—most of the melanomas that people get in the country are in the White/Caucasian population. Unfortunately, though, in people with skin of color, the melanomas that happen are more deadly. They’re not outnumbering the number of deaths that happen in the White/Caucasian population, but it really illustrates lack of access to care, potentially; hesitancy in not wanting to get care because of a lack of trust, potentially; a lack of knowledge.