Racial differences in melanoma incidence

Br J Cancer. 1979 Aug;40(2):185-93. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1979.165.


The incidences of malignant melanoma recorded by 59 population-based cancer registries were investigated to determine the effects of racial and skin-colour differences. White populations exhibited a wide range of melanoma incidences and females commonly, though not invariably, had a higher incidence than males. Non-white populations experienced in general a much lower incidence of melanoma although there was some overlap of white and non-white rates. No predominant sex difference emerged among non-whites. Populations of African descent were found to have a higher incidence than those of Asiatic origin, but it was concluded that this was due largely to the high frequency of tumours among Africans on the sole of the foot. A clear negative correlation between degree of skin pigmentation and melanoma incidence emerged for the exposed body sites. These data provide strong support for the hypotheses that UV radiation is a major cause of malignant melanoma and that melanin pigmentation protects against it. Further research is required to elucidate the aetiology of melanoma of the sole of the foot.

MeSH terms

  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Arm
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Continental Population Groups*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Leg
  • Male
  • Melanoma / epidemiology*
  • Registries
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Skin Pigmentation*