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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • oncology;
  • melanoma skin cancer;
  • oncologic health disparity

Abstract

Objectives: To assess the level of melanoma awareness and risk perception among ethnic minorities and to identify ways to enhance the relevance of melanoma educational materials for ethnic minorities.

 Methods: Twelve focus groups composed of participants from a single ethnicity [African-American (n=40), Hispanic (n=40), and Asian (n=40)], participated in a 2 h discussion on melanoma and skin cancer and commented on an educational brochure by the American Cancer Society and reacted to photographs of melanoma on ethnic skin. Participants also evaluated the ability to sunburn and tan and the skin cancer risk of images of celebrities before and after the discussion. Additionally, participants assessed the skin tone of celebrities as very fair, fair, olive, light brown, dark brown, and very dark. The audiotape recordings of the 12 focus groups were transcribed and analyzed with the Non-numerical Unstructured Data Indexing Searching and Theorizing software for common themes.

 Results: The common themes were (1) lack of relevance of skin cancer to ethnic people, (2) understanding of skin cancer risk terminology is based on personal experience and what is acquired from the media, and (3) sources of health information for ethnic minorities are fragmented and physicians are not the primary source of information. Celebrity images representing the six skin tones were selected.

 Conclusions: Relevance of melanoma education to ethnic people may be improved by using ‘melanoma skin cancer’, photographs of early melanoma in people with dark skin, and providing guidance on how to inspect hands and feet for suspicious moles. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.