Black men more likely to die from melanoma, study finds
Men with melanoma, particularly Black men, are more likely to die than women with melanoma, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Comparing data from the National Cancer Database from 2004 to 2018, the analysis of more than 200,000 people found the 5-year survival rate in men with melanoma was highest for White men, at around 75%, compared to Black men, who ranked the lowest, with a survival rate of 52%. American Indian/Alaskan Native (69%), Asian (68%) and Hispanic (66%) men fell in between.
The study also showed that men of color were more likely to have melanoma diagnosed at an advanced stage, making it more difficult to treat. Even when adjusted for factors like income level and insurance coverage, Black race alone increased mortality risk compared to the White population, the study found.
Melanoma causes more than 9,000 deaths per year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC data also show rates of male mortality for melanoma, of all races, are more than double that of females of all races.
"We know that men may be less likely to seek medical care than women, so they can be diagnosed with melanoma at later stages," dermatologist and co-author of the study Ashley Wysong, founding chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said in a news release. "However, even after accounting for later stages at diagnosis, men still have worse overall survival rates than women with melanoma, so we suspect that there are some unmeasured social, genetic, tumor-specific and potentially biological factors at play, such as hormones and the way the immune system responds to melanoma tumors."
While it has been known that skin cancer is increasing among all Americans, with specific rises in men and people of color, this is the largest study to date to look specifically at the role of race among men with melanoma.
"We hope our research can lay the foundation for future studies to determine why there's such a gap in survival rates, and to make headway to reduce these survival rate gaps," Wysong said.
The American Academy of Dermatology says to reduce your risk, wear sunscreen and sun-protective clothing and watch for changes to your skin.
"If you have a spot on your skin that has looked the same your whole life and suddenly the edges might look different or the color changes, if the size changes, that's an important factor," Dr. Maral Kibarian Skelsey, dermatologist and director of the Dermatologic Surgery Center of Washington, previously told CBS News.
It's also recommended that everyone above age 18 get an annual skin examination.
"The thing that's unique about skin cancer — it's so common, but it's also so preventable," Dr. Elizabeth Hale, associate professor of dermatology at NYU Langone and senior vice president of the Skin Cancer Foundation previously told CBS News.
About 90% of skin cancers are associated with sun exposure, which makes protection important, Hale added.
"We recommend a broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher, and it's important to think about sunscreen every single day. It's not just enough when going to the beach or pool because we know that some damage is cumulative," she says. "When you're outside, you want to reapply every two hours — even more if you're sweating or swimming. Getting people to wear it every day is the real goal."