NECN, February 2, 2011

Dr. Shane Morita, a Queen’s Medical Center surgical oncologist, plans to begin a study on how Melanoma affects people of different ethnicities. After a review of the Hawaii Tumor Registry data, Dr. Morita found that even though Melanoma is seen mostly in Caucasians–there was a disproportionate rate of Non-Caucasians dying from the disease. The study will be funded by the North Central Cancer Treatment Group which is a clinical research group based at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. It’s sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.

Sun-bathers at Waikiki beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

This study comes at the right time. The American Cancer Society estimates there are 310 new cases of Melanoma in Hawaii each year. Being so close to the equator brings Hawaii residents a greater risk of Melanoma than other U.S. states. Even though no ethnicity is immune to skin cancer there is a sub-type that is mostly diagnosed in Asian and African-Americans and is not uncommon in Hawaii. The Melanoma subtype is called acral lentiginous melanoma and is found on the palms, soles of the feet and nail beds.

It’s very interesting why this subtype is more common in non-caucasians, but if you think about how melanoma develops it makes sense. Darker-skinned people have more pigment to block the UVA and UVB rays to an extent. The only “fair-skinned” parts of the body are the palms, soles and nail beds. So, the question then is; how do people of color protect those parts of their body from skin cancer? I hope the study uncovers the answers!

There is one thing for sure. The only way to decrease your risk of skin cancer is to cover-up! Wearing uv-protected swim shirts with long-sleeves, pants and wide-brimmed hats are key. Don’t forget about an SPF 30+ sunscreen and to stay out of direct sunlight during the peak hours of the day (10am-4pm).  UV Skinz has the perfect solution to quick reliable sun-protection every time. No matter what your ethnicity UV Skinz swim shirts and clothing protect with a UPF 50+ that doesn’t rub or wash off!

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