Associates in Dermatology Launches Melanoma Awareness Campaign to Counter the Rising Rate of Advanced Skin Cancer Among US Hispanics

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Skin cancer rates rise in Hispanics by 20 percent over the last 20 years, this represents an alarming medical issue as Hispanics represent the fastest growing population in the United States.

"Often our patients are surprised to learn that a darker complexion does not mean there is a lesser risk of skin cancer than that found in other groups." - Michael Steppie, MD.

Statistics confirm what physicians at Associates in Dermatology believe is a dangerous trend -- higher advanced-stage melanoma skin cancer rates in subpopulations of Hispanic origin. Although melanoma accounts for less than 2 percent of skin cancer cases, it is responsible for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths in the United States with an estimated 9,940 fatalities in 2015.1 In Florida, melanoma is responsible for about 75% of all skin cancer deaths each year.2

"We live in the Sunshine State, so it is not surprising that our doctors are seeing the impact of this growing problem sooner than later," remarked Associates in Dermatology medical director, Dr. Michael Steppie. "Often our patients are surprised to learn that a darker complexion does not mean there is a lesser risk of skin cancer than that found in other groups."

Research published by the National Center for Biotechnology reported that 26 percent of Hispanic patients receive an initial diagnosis of advanced stage melanoma versus only 16 percent of non-Hispanic white patients.3 Since sunburns are a significant risk factor for the development of deadly skin cancers,4 the higher rate may stem from false beliefs. That's why Associates in Dermatology is actively encouraging everyone to learn and share information about sun exposure, preventative measures and routine self examinations.

Hispanics residents are a diverse group

The word Hispanic is a "federal designation" that is a separate concept from race and is used in the United States for national and state reporting systems. Hispanics are the largest, fastest-growing, and youngest minority group in the United States. Since Hispanic origin may be of any race, residents of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, South and Central American and other Spanish descent belong to this group including many individuals with fair skin.

According to the US Census Bureau, Florida was home to 2.7 million Hispanics at the turn of the century being the first among states in the number of Cubans, second in Puerto Ricans, fourth in South and Central Americans, and fifth in Mexicans. This diversity means Florida provides a unique opportunity for studying and educating Hispanic subpopulations about the need for skin cancer self-examinations as well as adopting proven preventive measures. Overall, cancer is the leading cause of death among US Hispanics accounting 21% of deaths including 15% of deaths in children.5

In Summary

As reported by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, cancer rates for Hispanics in Florida were found to be at least 40% higher than Hispanics in their countries of origin.6 Changes in lifestyle among first generation US Hispanics and an absence of education in various communities about preventive measures are believed to play a major role in the differing cancer rates.

A related study found the percentage of Hispanics who reported "often" or "always" engaging in sun protection behaviors when outside on a sunny day was as follows: using sunscreen, 24%; staying in the shade, 54%; wearing a hat, 32%; wearing a long-sleeved shirt, 24%; and wearing long pants, 58%.7

At Associates in Dermatology, we understand the importance of skin cancer awareness and support proactive efforts to reduce the group's higher rate of dangerous lesions diagnosed in later stages of development. If you would like free information about melanoma and preventive measures that can reduce the risk of sun exposure, as well as how to perform skin cancer self-examinations, download the Associates in Dermatology - Skin Cancer Fact Sheet available in both English and Spanish versions.

NOTE: Media sources interested in additional information can contact AID online at Associates in Dermatology Media Contact Page

About Associates in Dermatology

Associates in Dermatology operates twelve (12) comprehensive practices serving patients throughout Central Florida by offering a full range of skincare services for clinical and cosmetic dermatology. Under the direction of Dr. Michael Steppie, Associates in Dermatology's doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and clinical aestheticians help patient overcome skin-related conditions and provide cutting-edge skin cancer treatments.

As an award-winning Mohs micrographic skin cancer surgeon, Dr. Steppie and Associate in Dermatology's CAP-certified laboratories have served as Orlando's preferred skin cancer surgery center for more than 25 years. Associates in Dermatology also offers free medical care to Central Florida’s uninsured and indigent, including performing free skin cancer screenings during the Skin Cancer Foundation’s annual Road to Healthy Skin Tour and within the practice, particularly during May, which is designated as Skin Cancer Awareness Month nationwide.


1 American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2015. Online release: Accessed January 9, 2015.

2 National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). State Cancer Profiles. U.S. county-level, U.S. state-level by gender, and Florida county-level incidence data queries. Incidence data based on data from the State’s Cancer Registry, the CDC's National Program of Cancer Registries Cancer Surveillance System (NPCR-CSS) November 2008/January 2009 data submission, and the SEER November 2008 submission.

3 Hu S, Soza-Vento RM, Parker DF, Kirsner RS. Comparison of stage at diagnosis of melanoma among Hispanic, black, and white patients in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Arch Dermatol 2006 Jun; 142(6):704-8.

4 Oliveria SA, et al. (2006). Sun Exposure and Risk of Melanoma. Arch Dis Child, 91, 131– 138. Published online 2005 Dec 2. doi: 10.1136/adc.2005.086918.

5 First author: Rebecca Siegel, MPH, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Ga. Cancer Statistics for Hispanics/Latinos 2012, Published online Sept. 17, 2012 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

6 Paulo S. Pinheiro, et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009;18(8):2162–9. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-09-0329.

7 Elliot J. Coups, Ph.D., The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Linguistic Acculturation and Skin Cancer–Related Behaviors Among Hispanics in the Southern and Western United States. April 17, 2013. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.745

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