Deadliest Skin Cancer Is Deadliest for Black Men

One factor that plays a role in the US: diagnosis delays, scientists say
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2023 11:36 AM CDT
Deadliest Skin Cancer Is Deadliest for Black Men
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/AndreyPopov)

Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is more common and more deadly in men than it is in women. It is also much more common in white men than in Black men, yet Black men ultimately fare worse, the reasons for which are explored in what's touted as the largest published study of melanoma in American men, per Time. In analyzing data from more than 205,000 men diagnosed with melanoma from 2004 to 2018, researchers found survival rates varied hugely based on race. White men had a five-year overall survival rate of 75%. Native American, Asian, and Hispanic men had rates between 66% and 69%. The rate for Black men, in comparison, was 52%. Overall, Black men were 26% more likely to die of melanoma than white men, per the Washington Post.

Late-stage diagnoses played a role in that. Some 49% of Black men were diagnosed in the late stage, compared with 21% of white men, 29% of Native American men, 38% of Asian men, and 40% of Hispanic men. With melanoma, "the further along it is … the poorer overall survival is, in general," study co-author Ashley Wysong, chair of dermatology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, tells Time. So why the delay for Black men? For one thing, doctors are "more confident identifying all types of skin conditions on lighter skin compared to darker skin," per the Association of American Medical Colleges. Melanomas also present differently among Black men compared to white men, as the study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology shows.

Some 61% of white men had melanomas on the trunk, head, or neck. Fewer than 10% experienced melanomas on the lower extremities, while more than half of Black men did. Similarly, 20% of Black men but less than 1% of white men had acral lentiginous melanoma, a more deadly subtype that occurs on the hands and feet, including in nail beds. In such areas, melanomas may be mistaken for warts or other benign conditions, resulting in diagnosis delays, Wysong tells the Post. But as Black men still had poorer survival outcomes after researchers accounted for factors including the timing of diagnosis, location of the cancer, income, and insurance, "there are lots of factors we are not accounting for that we absolutely need to understand better," Wysong tells Time. (More melanoma stories.)

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