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Persons of Color Have Worse Survival When Getting Melanoma

Populations of color are reported to have lower survival rates when diagnosed with melanoma.”
— Michell Taylor, BA
OMAHA, NE, UNITED STATES, September 15, 2022 / -- Melanoma is the seventh most common cancer in women and the fifth most common cancer in men worldwide. The number of new cases of melanoma is increasing rapidly, with a faster increase than every other cancer besides lung cancer in females. Although the number of new melanoma cases is greatest in fair-skinned populations, populations of color have lower survival rates when diagnosed with melanoma.

In this new study in SKIN: The Journal of Cutaneous Medicine®, Mitchell Taylor, BA and co-authors review the literature to identify various differences in melanoma characteristics among minority populations to help explain this relationship. One of their important findings is that minority populations get their cancers diagnosed as a later stage and are therefore about twice as likely to present with more advanced cancers compared to Caucasians. Additionally, African Americans presented with the greatest rate of advanced melanoma, with a fourfold increase in advanced melanoma diagnosis compared to Caucasians. This is significant because melanoma is much easier to treat at earlier stages. For example, patients diagnosed with early melanoma have a 5-year survival rate greater than 90%. On the other hand, advanced melanoma has a median survival rate less than 1 year.

The authors also explore other reasons for the disparities in melanoma, including melanoma subtypes, location of the melanoma, genetic mutations that contribute to melanoma development, and socioeconomic factors. Access to healthcare and health insurance have been shown to vary by race and ethnicity and in turn affect outcomes in melanoma patients. In examining these key differences, the authors hope to raise awareness of this issue so that patient outcomes in minorities can be improved for this deadly disease.

SKIN: The Journal of Cutaneous Medicine® is a peer-reviewed online medical journal that is the official journal of The National Society for Cutaneous Medicine. The mission of SKIN is to provide an enhanced and accelerated route to disseminate new dermatologic knowledge for all aspects of cutaneous disease.

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Mitchell Taylor, BA
Creighton University School of Medicine