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Ethnicity and skin cancer

Asian American and African American melanoma patients have a greater tendency than Caucasians to present with advanced disease at time of diagnosis.

  • The average annual melanoma rate among Caucasians is about 22 cases per 100,000 people. In comparison, African Americans have an incidence of one case per 100,000 people. However, the overall melanoma survival rate for African Americans is only 77 percent, versus 91 percent for Caucasians.
  • While melanoma is uncommon in African Americans, Latinos, and Asians, it is frequently fatal for these populations.
  • Melanomas in African Americans, Asians, Filipinos, Indonesians, and native Hawaiians most often occur on non-exposed skin with less pigment, with up to 60-75 percent of tumors arising on the palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions.
  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common cancer in Caucasians, Hispanics, Chinese, and Japanese, and other Asian populations.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common skin cancer among African Americans and Asian Indians.
  • Among non-Caucasians, melanoma is a higher risk for children than adults: 6.5 percent of pediatric melanomas occur in non-Caucasians.

Sources

SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2004 (NCI)

Cress RD, Holly EA. Incidence of cutaneous melanoma among non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics, Asians, and blacks: an analysis of California cancer registry data, 1988-93. Cancer Causes Control 1997; 8:246-52.

Gloster HM, Neal K. Skin Cancer in Skin of Color. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006; 55:741-60.

Gloster HM, Neal K. Skin Cancer in Skin of Color. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006; 55:741-60.

Gloster HM, Neal K. Skin Cancer in Skin of Color. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006; 55:741-60.