Dr. Gabriel J. Martinez-Diaz, a board-certified dermatologist in Chicago, IL and owner of M D Aesthetics and Dermatology in the West Loop of Chicago, educates the Hispanic/Latino community on the aspects relevant to skin cancer. As he indicates, skin cancer is color blind. With our changing demographics, Hispanics will comprise 30% of the U.S. population by 2050 (Census data). In the state of Illinois alone there’s over 2.1 million of Hispanics, making it the 5th state with the largest Hispanic population.
As a dermatologist, Dr. Martinez-Diaz routinely checks patients for the possibility of detecting a skin cancer. As part of this screening exam – which involves a head to toe thorough skin examination, he can identify concerning skin findings or reassure his patients on the harmless nature of numerous skin growths. When working with the Latino community, he educates them that people of any skin color are at risk of skin cancer and it may occur anywhere on the skin. Particularly among these patients it can involve areas not seeing the sun, such as the hands, feet, around the fingernails and toenails, groin, or between the buttocks. He counsels patients to seek his expertise when they identify a new or changing lesion – which may be bleeding, painful, rapidly changing or stands out in any shape or form.
With regards to prevention, Dr. Martinez-Diaz regularly counsels his patients to wear sunscreen and sun protective clothing, avoid tanning or burning, seeking shade as much as possible, and see him on a yearly basis for his thorough skin exams. Unfortunately, many Hispanics do not use sun screen or sun protective clothing or educate their children into skin protective measures. Among Hispanics, the incidence of non-melanoma (basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma) skin cancer is 3% and increasing, with patients being diagnosed at a younger age and predominantly among females. Raising awareness is an important step towards combating preventable skin cancers – and it takes a behavioral change among our Hispanic communities to adapt the use of sun block and sun protective clothing, as a first step. Lastly, all patients should regularly check their skin for any new, changing or suspicious spots, especially if they are itchy or bleeding- and seek the prompt evaluation of a board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Martinez-Diaz advises.