Background: Melanoma incidence continues to increase in whites, but little is known about melanoma in minority populations. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data were used to examine the incidence, manifestations, and survival in patients with melanoma with respect to race/ethnicity.
Methods: A SEER search (1992-2002) for primary invasive cutaneous melanoma cases identified 48 143 whites, 932 Hispanics, 394 Asian/Pacific islanders, 251 African Americans, and 52 American Indians. Multivariate analyses were performed to evaluate the relationship between race/ethnicity and clinicopathologic factors; associations between race/ethnicity and survival were examined using the Cox proportional hazards model.
Results: Based on our cohort of patients, the average annual age-adjusted melanoma incidence per 100 000 persons was 18.4 for whites compared with 2.3, 0.8, 1.6, and 1.0 for Hispanics, African Americans, American Indians, and Asians, respectively. Lower extremity and acral lentiginous melanomas were more common among minorities. Overall 5-year survival was 72.2% to 81.1% for minorities compared with 89.6% for whites. A 1.96- to 3.01-fold greater risk of disease-specific mortality persisted in minorities compared with whites after adjusting for age, sex, and region. In addition, Hispanics (odds ratio [OR], 3.6), African Americans (OR, 4.2), American Indians (OR, 3.4), and Asians (OR, 2.4) were more likely to present with stage IV melanoma than were whites. African Americans had a 1.48-fold higher rate of risk-adjusted, stage-specific mortality compared with whites.
Conclusions: Melanoma is a public health concern for all ethnic populations. Differences in disease stage at presentation contributes to disparities in survival. Understanding melanoma in minority populations may lead to early detection and ultimately save lives.