DOI: 10.1158/1538-7755.disp23-a009 ISSN: 1538-7755

Abstract A009: Engaging Latino communities to develop a skin cancer intervention: A qualitative exploration

Zhaomeng Niu, Aarthi Shanmugavel, Yonaira Rivera, Carolina Lozada, Emily Peters, Carolyn Heckman
  • Oncology
  • Epidemiology


Introduction: In the past two decades, melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) incidence among Latinos has risen by 20%. Despite the lower incidence rate of skin cancers among Latinos compared to Caucasians, the mortality rate of Latinos is higher. However, skin cancer is understudied among Latinos and they were less likely to engage in skin cancer preventive behaviors. This qualitative study explored Latinos’ beliefs and behaviors related to skin cancer and their interest in a skin cancer intervention from both community members and key stakeholders. Methods: Latinos were recruited in New Jersey through community organizations and social media posts (n=34; 11 Spanish-preferring and 23 English-preferring) for focus group discussions. Five focus groups (2 in Spanish and 3 in English) were conducted, where participants discussed their perceptions and behaviors about skin cancer, sun protection, skin self-examination, culture and lifestyles, and their recommendations for a mobile skin cancer intervention. Additionally, healthcare providers (n=4) and Latino community leaders (n=5) were recruited for individual interviews to complement the results of focus groups. A thematic analysis was conducted on all transcripts. Results: Focus group participants aged from 18 to 73 (M=33.44), 50% were female (n=17), 29.4% (n=10) had a household income below $25000, and 32.3% (n=11) had less than a college degree. Awareness of and knowledge about skin cancer, sun protection, and skin examination were low overall. All participants indicated that skin cancer communication is rare among Latinos. There was consensus among the findings of the focus groups and key stakeholder interviews. Perceived barriers included: 1) limited access (e.g., health insurance); 2) low awareness or knowledge (e.g., don’t know efficient sun protection methods or what to look for in skin self-examination); 3) misperception (e.g., dark skin won’t get skin cancer). Salient facilitators included: 1) care for family (e.g., sunscreen for children and parents); 2) consequences (e.g., worry and fear of aging or death, sunburns); 3) coverage or access (e.g., good insurance). Social media usage was prevalent in many households, with WhatsApp and Facebook being popular platforms for communication with family and friends, as well as for discussing health-related topics. The consensus regarding intervention messages was that visuals and clear/simple messages featuring Latinos would be effective in educating about skin cancer and promoting behavior change. As complementary findings, key stakeholders indicated that educating the women in the family on sun safety behaviors, involving local Latino organizations, and delivering messages from physicians directly would be effective. Conclusions: Findings highlight the importance of skin cancer education within the Latino community, particularly due to low awareness and misperception of skin cancer, sun protection, and skin examination. Social media present a promising way to reach Latinos through culturally-centered and mobile-based interventions.

Citation Format: Zhaomeng Niu, Aarthi Shanmugavel, Yonaira Rivera, Carolina Lozada, Emily Peters, Carolyn Heckman. Engaging Latino communities to develop a skin cancer intervention: A qualitative exploration [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 16th AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved; 2023 Sep 29-Oct 2;Orlando, FL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2023;32(12 Suppl):Abstract nr A009.

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