Skin cancer survival is lower in people with skin of color

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Skin cancer survival

Skin cancer is mainly caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. It is the most common form of cancer, accounting for at least 40% of cases in the world.

Skin cancer has one of the highest survival rates among cancers. More than 86% of people in the UK and more than 90% in the US can survive more than 5 years.

It is known that Caucasians (white people) have a higher skin cancer risk than the general population. Many people believe that this means people with skin of color may have a lower risk of skin cancer.

However, a recent study published in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology shows that this is a misconception. The finding shows skin cancer survival can be lower in non-white patients than in white patients.

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University conducted the study. They evaluated the survival across racial groups in patients with a diagnosis of skin cancer (malignant melanoma).

The data was obtained from The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database during 1992 to 2009, which involved 96,953 skin cancer patients.

Researchers found that white patients had the longest survival time, followed by Hispanic, Asian American/Native American/Pacific Islander, and black patients, respectively.

In addition, survival stratified by race and stage showed that for skin cancer stages I and III, black patients had a significantly lower survival and increased hazard ratios. The proportion of later stage skin cancer was greater in black patients compared with white patients.

Researchers suggest that despite higher incidence of skin cancer in white patients, overall survival for skin cancer in non-whites was significantly lower.

Importantly, people should pay more attention to skin cancer screening and awareness in non-white populations to improve survival outcomes.

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Citation: Dawes SM, et al. (2016). Racial disparities in melanoma survival. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, published online. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaad.2016.06.006.
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