Barriers to Skin Cancer Prevention in Uninsured, Minority, Immigrant Populations Raises Health Risk

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Skin cancer prevention barriers are seen in persons who are uninsured and among minority and immigrant populations.  These barriers increase health risks including melanoma and other skin cancers risk. Partaking in sun-protective behavior is well known to help lower the risk of skin cancer, but if some groups are not receiving these prevention tips their risk greatly increases.

Researchers at the University of Miami surveyed patients at a local free medical clinic and found that many minority populations have a belief that having dark skin offers sun protection so they do not take the necessary steps to further protect themselves from the sun’s harmful rays.

Skin cancer rates among minority groups are on the rise in the U.S., and the minority population is expected to climb to over 50 percent by the year 2044. Uncovering effective skin cancer prevention tips targeted to these groups can better help lower skin cancer rates.

Researchers utilized a 23-question survey in several different languages to assess skin cancer risk, perception, knowledge of sun-protective behavior, and barriers. All participants were uninsured and were living at least 200 percent lower than the federal poverty line.

A total of 206 participants completed the survey with majority of them being females who worked indoors.

Key findings of the study unveiled:

  • Nearly one-quarter of the participants had never heard of skin cancer or melanoma
  • Nearly 40 percent believed they were “very unlikely” or “unlikely” to develop skin cancer or melanoma
  • Nearly 21 percent believed having dark skin protected them from the skin cancer
  • Over half the respondents had never or rarely checked their skin for suspicious spots
  • Wearing a hat was the most consistent sun-protecting behavior (39.5 percent)
  • Nearly 90 percent of respondents wanted to learn more about skin cancer

The authors concluded, “Intervention efforts in uninsured, minority and immigrant communities need to focus on increasing knowledge capacity and promoting self-skin checks.”


Jacobsen, A. A., et. Al., “Defining the need for skin cancer prevention education in uninsured, minority, and immigrant communities,” JAMA Dermatology,, last accessed September 16, 2016.