June 19, 2006

Melanoma deadlier for blacks, Hispanics: study

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Melanoma can be especially deadly for
blacks and Hispanics because they tend to get diagnosed later
than whites whose fairer skin makes them more susceptible to
the skin cancer, a study said on Monday.

An improvement in the survival rate of whites with melanoma
has not been matched among populations with darker skin tones
who contract the cancer, which can spread to other parts of the
body more readily than other skin cancers.

In a look at 1,690 melanoma cases among residents of the
Miami area, the disease had reached an advanced stage in 31
percent of black patients, 16 percent of Hispanics and 9
percent of whites, said study author Dr. Shasa Hu of the
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Delay in diagnosis allows the disease to progress and may
contribute to the lower survival rates among blacks and
Hispanics, the study said. Whites' survival rates have climbed
to 92 percent in recent years from 68 percent in the 1970s,
while blacks have a 78 percent survival rate.

"Evidence suggests that secondary prevention efforts such
as skin cancer examination are suboptimal in Hispanic and black
populations," the report said.

Overall, the incidence of melanoma is increasing 2.4
percent annually, according to the study published in this
month's issue of the Archives of Dermatology. The disease
strikes 21 out of 100,000 whites, 4 out of 100,000 Hispanics
and 1 out of 100,000 blacks.