More Emphasis Needed on Melanoma Risk in Non-White Populations

Overall survival for patient with cutaneous melanoma was significantly lower for non-white patients, indicating a need for more emphasis on screening and awareness in these populations.

Although melanoma most frequently occurs among people with fair to light skin, melanoma also can occur in people with darker skin. Researchers in Michigan and Ohio used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database to examine a cohort of 96,953 patients diagnosed from 1992 to 2009 with cutaneous melanoma as their primary cancer.

White patients had the longest survival time, followed by Hispanic, Asian American/Native American/Pacific Islander, and black patients. For stages I and III, blacks had a significantly lower survival and increased hazard ratios. The proportion of later stage cutaneous melanoma (stages II-IV) was greater in black compared with white patients.

Despite the higher incidence of cutaneous melanoma in white people, overall survival for cutaneous melanoma in non-whites was significantly lower. SEER data suggest there will be 87,110 new cases of melanoma in 2017. The researchers concluded that more emphasis is needed for melanoma screening and awareness in non-white populations in order to improve survival outcomes.

Dawes SM, Tsai S, Gittleman H, et al. Racial disparities in melanoma survival. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;75(5):983-991.