Florida's Minorities See Unusual Melanoma Patterns

WEDNESDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- Melanoma trends among minority groups in Florida, the Sunshine State, are different than national trends, a new study finds.

Researchers evaluated data on more than 36,000 melanoma patients in the Florida Cancer Data System and over 73,000 patients in the national Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) databases between 1992 and 2004.

Compared to national rates, incidence of the potentially deadly skin cancer in Florida was 20% higher among Hispanic men and 60% higher among black women, but 30% lower for Hispanic women.

The findings are published in the July issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

"Although causation of melanoma among non-whites cannot be inferred from descriptive data, we believe that the observed trends in Florida are, in part, attributable to UV radiation exposure. The high UV index of Florida may potentially explain the higher incidence pattern in non-white Floridians compared with their non-white counterparts in the SEER catchment areas," wrote Panta Rouhani, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues in a news release from the journal's publisher.

"In conclusion, by comparing national melanoma trends with those obtained from individual states, disparities in melanoma prevention and detection may be uncovered," Rouhani and colleagues concluded. "We are hopeful that the analysis of ethnic disparities in melanoma will prompt public health initiatives. The development of educational campaigns on sun safety and skin cancer awareness should be tailored to the unique needs of Florida."

About one out of every 58 Americans will develop melanoma in their lifetime, according to background information provided in the report. Lighter-skinned people are more likely to develop the disease, but Hispanics and blacks are more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma at a more advanced stage.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, July 19, 2010